Branch Out May Cause Me to Delete My “Friends”
Launched in July 2010, Branch Out, is a Facebook application that could be a game-changer for LinkedIn (Personally, I hope not.). Today, I’ve seen several of my 500+ Facebook Friends install the application into their profiles and that concerns me.
If you’ve been paying attention to my writings on social media through this blog, you will notice that I have written on the subject of privacy A LOT. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook in that the main reason I hold onto my profile is to continue to connect with my family & friends, more so than for professional purposes. Because of Branch Out, I might lose some of those folks and that saddens me.
While I understand the concept behind the application and to some extent I agree that it has the potential to be extremely powerful, the one thing the designers forgot is that for many of the 500 million+ users on the medium, not ALL of them use their profiles for a professional purpose. I am one of those people.
I use Facebook for both personal and professional reasons but does that mean I want my profile picture on Facebook to be the same one in the Branch Out application? No. Does that mean I want to update ALL of my professional information under my Facebook Profile Info tab to include every place I have worked or currently work? No. Not to mention, I currently work as an Independent Consultant under the premise of “Lisa Sullivan PR” but to be honest, I’m not a full-fledged business, I don’t plan to be, and nor do I plan to create a Facebook Page for it either. I’m happy using my WordPress site for anything related to whatever independent consulting I do.
Branch Out is assuming that every person on Facebook wants to be connected professionally. That is not the case…at least it’s not with me. Now, I haven’t seen evidence that those that have opted into the application can also control which Friends on their Friends list that don’t mind being listed, nor have I seen a Facebook privacy button that indicates that I can opt out of my information being listed.
Right now, from what I can gather, when an individual grants permission for Branch Out to access their profile information one of their profile components that will be gathered is their Friends list with absolutely no way for a Friend to opt out. That is unacceptable to me…and grounds for me to terminate that “friendship”. Not limit access, but terminate…and that saddens me because I would prefer not to have to do that. However, currently, I’m left with no choice.
I hope the folks at Branch Out take notice of this privacy flaw.
For those of us that use Facebook mainly for personal use and have locked down our profiles as tight as can be, the idea that our profile image will be added to someone’s professional network is not appropriate. That’s not to say that I put up ANY inappropriate images of myself on Facebook. Rather, perhaps I’d like to keep the picture of me and my pooch as my profile shot. I don’t consider that to be a professional picture and if the application is meant to link professionals, well, you see my point?
I’d like to thank John Zappe for bringing the privacy issues to the forefront of the folks at Branch Out in his article as well as for his follow up since his discussion with Rick Marini, Founder of Branch Out after the fact. John’s articles validated my reason for this post.
Here’s a You Tube video that explains Branch Out in a nutshell:
What do you think? About Branch Out? About deleting Friends on Facebook because of this issue? Would love to hear your thoughts.
UPDATE: I have posted an updated review of Branch Out since this posting and you might be surprised as to what I have to say. Please take a look.
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