Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Calling "Social" Team Out.

by Cummere Mayo

[Additional notes edit: I debated long and hard about cross posting this here, but in the end, I decided I should.]

Anyone following web profiles knows about the battle for privacy being waged by users agaisnt the Social project team at Linden Lab. Its being played out in forums, in chat rooms, in Blogs, on twitter, and in the jira; one of the most voted jiras being web-3494 written by yours truley.

In that jira several major issues about privacy and preferences are raised and and argued for by nearly all the comenters, leading to some "concessions" and promises. Promises that have yet to materialize. I'm going to blast through these in rapid succession.

Promise 1:
Said by Yoz on 1/20/11:

"As you may have noticed, the Real Life section has been removed from publicly-visible web profiles for the moment, so as to bring the new web profiles in line with the old ones. We don't know if or when they'll be back, but we would like to offer residents more control over the visibility of individual profile sections in the future; if this comes about (the likelihood and timing is not certain) then the Real Life section would be part of that."

The facts:
For a short time real life tab did indeed seem to be hidden but across the board the last couple of days everyone has been seeing this tab again. heres the thing, we don't see it on our OWN profiles, we see it on others. (For independant confirmation visit the Linden Lab blog here and read recent comments.) This is a depressing and outright inexcusable breach of privacy.

Promise 2:
Said by Yoz on 1/20/11:

"But, this is a good time to remind everyone: if you're sharing information in your profile and you have "Show me in Search" ticked (which also currently enables public web profiles), then it is at the very least visible to millions of Second Life residents and the Search system. Profile information is also explicitly excluded from the Privacy Policy (see section 6)."

The facts:
Turning off "Show me in Search" does NOT disable the web profiles for either the old or the new style. In v1 it removes you from the internet and in world search engines only. In v2 for both the and the it removes you from the inworld search engine, but still keeps you in the web search engine. For both it also only requires a password to see your profile details but still shows at minimum your name, photo, and a join here link to those not logged in. This is INEXCUSEABLE.

Promise 3:
Said by Fredrik on 1/25/11:
"We just deployed a new version that removes the Share This widget for profiles that have the "Show me in search" option checked.

We are working on a complete overhaul of the privacy settings that will allow users to have more control over their privacy.

Until then please do come with ideas and constructive feedback."

The facts: Neither checking nor unchecking this seems to have any effect at all on the Share This widget. It still shows up on everyone's profile once you log in. Again inexcuseable.

In all three cases we were told these three changes were already implemented and deployed. So my question to Social team is this: Do you really think we are that stupid that we cannot tell what our own profiles are doing? Did you really think before you fed us these lines? What exactly did you gain by lying to us?

I'm calling you out on this Social. Step up to the plate and implement these changes and apologize for the lies.

update 2/3/11:
Ive been told that the real life tab change was backed out as part of a process toward a more robust and grandular preferences system coming soon. I am taking a wait and see attitude on that one.


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