Friday, May 21, 2010

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Change Your Facebook Settings to "Friends Only" By Pushing Just One Button -- New Web App From Two Linden Lab Vets

Facebook Friends Only Button

Given all the recent controversy over Facebook privacy policies, and the confusing tangle of 50 options you need to navigate, to manage your privacy on the social network, the One Button Rule probably couldn't come at a better time. As the name suggests, it's a web app (for Firefox and Chrome) that changes your Facebook privacy settings with the push of a single button. It was developed by two alumni of Linden Lab (who are also, full disclosure, friends) -- on the tech side, Ian Wilkes, who was the main guy behind scaling Second Life, and on the business side of things, Linden's former lawyer and VP of Corporate development Ginsu Yoon, who as it happens, just wrote a post on his blog about Facebook's expanding levels of control over its users. This app, as it turns out, is meant to be part of a solution that gives consumers more control over their Facebook options:

"The Friends Only button is looking at all of the settings pointed out in that New York Times chart," Ginsu told me. Unlike other solutions, he says this one "automatically monitors Facebook changes to your settings... This is important because of Facebook's long history of changing things without making clear to the user what has happened." Their challenge now is making constant updates that stay ahead of the social network's revisions, to make sure the Friends Only Button keeps functioning. "[W]e have already seen that Facebook is making changes - they would call them 'enhancements' - that prevent this and other tools from working properly," as Ginsu puts it. "So this is an ongoing battle."

Update, 11:05AM: As a follow-up, I asked Ginsu how his years with Linden Lab inspired this One Button Rule app, which is a side project of Bynamite, the name of he and Ian's startup. He said this:

"Second Life showed me that the power of the Internet is really in the hands of the people -- whether they know it or not. When I see people complaining that giant services like Facebook or Google are taking advantage of them, I think 'That's ridiculous! All we have to is create technology that unites our power to take back control! A few big companies don't stand a chance against millions of united consumers!' That's the basic mission of Bynamite, so you could say that what we are doing is all about bringing what we learned from Second Life to a larger Internet audience."


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Troy McConaghy

Another tool that does something similar is available at

Frans Charming

I was going to suggest that as well, Troy! seems to work pretty good.


Is there one that works with Safari?

Ari Blackthorne™

At least it's something. Unfortunately for 99% of all facebook users, their "friends" aren't. Not really. In fact "friend" is the wrong word. Should be the same as every other social media: "follower".

At least it's something!


brinda allen

Ok..I dont use facebook and never will...but can someone explain,
{"[W]e have already seen that Facebook is making changes - they would call them 'enhancements' - that prevent this and other tools from working properly," as Ginsu puts it. "So this is an ongoing battle."} Quote from Ginsu Yoon.
It's exactly things like that that keep a lot of us away.


Hamlet, thanks for the mention!

ReclaimPrivacy is a neat tool, I would recommend it to IE and Safari users. We made the Friends Only button for Firefox and Chrome because it give users more control over Facebook - the button monitors Facebook's changes to your settings automatically, you don't have to remember to check.

Brinda, what I mean is that Facebook changes how they handle privacy settings all the time. Intentionally or unintentionally, the changes they make are often confusing to users, and they often prevent tools like ReclaimPrivacy and FriendsOnly from working. So we have to stay on top of their changes and update our software.

Our thought is that it's better for us to do all this work for many customers at once than it is for each individual to have to figure out everything by themselves.



I looked at the initials and initially thought **** Off!


Eggy Lippmann

Why should I? Are you kidding? Privacy? In the 21st century? Don't you like it when someone pays attention to you and takes an interest in what you're interested in? Why do people put up blogs and record videos of themselves and in every possible way whore themselves out for the tiniest bit of fame?

I'd like the entire world to come meet me and learn things about me... or at least the ones who have something in common with me... it's far easier to meet interesting people on the internet BECAUSE THEY PUT UP A PROFILE and let you filter out the idiots who are into everything you find abhorring :)

As for ads, well, you mentally filter them out of pages, so who cares about ads?
It's always better to have targeted ads anyway... in the unlikely event you ever notice them, it might be something you care about.

If you try to live in a closed group of friends... you're eventually going to find yourself very lonely. People change, move to other places, so many things. Need to constantly meet new people!

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