Facebook has taken the unusual step of allowing 30% of its members to decide privacy policies. CBS News and CNET’s Larry Magid and I talked the change over in this interview late last night.
The jujitsu by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerman is no doubt meant to counter a recent populist revolt against a change in Facebook’s fine print that seemed to suggest Facebook owned user profile data even after a user deleted their account. The backlash killed the policy, and Facebook obviously realized it had tapped a powerful populist force.
The big question is whether companies like Google will be forced to embrace this new populism. Would Google agree to let a certain percentage of its members dictate privacy policies at the company? If so, Google would no doubt have to put an "anonymize me" button on its search engine and other products, as we have called for. Is Google 2.0 enough to take the Facebook challenge? How about My Space, or MSN, or Twitter. Will they give users a vote over their privacy controls? It’s a powerful proposition… stay tuned.