Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Netflix Privacy

Alright folks. Gather 'round. I've been thinking about this for the few days everyone has been discussing it; I've been reading your debate and really impressed with the depth of interest and considerate listening.

So first I will cut to the chase: Effective with the release of Faves (and everything else this weekend), if you select “Private” on the Profile page, it will not only hide your presence to outsiders, but if you are a Friends user, it will hide your Friends from view. It’s as if they are all invisible. This is a compromise of sorts, but it maintains the type of privacy you currently experience using Friends. I seriously hope y’all will not opt for this, but I don’t see anything wrong with providing it. I certainly hope this solves most of your issues. (And I understand it certainly cannot solve all of them – but you only convinced me at 3pm...) You guys made a very good case. If you’re interested in the logic behind this, read on.

The thing you said that struck me was about the nature of sharing Friends information. I believe there is a clearly established relationship between Friends: full disclosure. You're naked there -- queue, rental history, full name -- I honestly saw little difference between this current state and adding in the list of your Friends (particularly with them as anonymous as each of those individuals self-select to be); I simply didn't agree that there was any ethical reason to keep them more private, and having them public served the common good of movie discovery. But this openness is all about movies. And y’all made the interesting point that who my friends are, that I have friends at all, is not relevant; and while it might be fun for some people, it isn’t fun for everyone. I guess I could imagine that it could cause angst for a very small minority, and that it is something that each person should be allowed to control. For their own reasons.

One reason I was not implementing this degree of control over privacy was due to the complexity it could potentially insert for everyone to protect a small few who desire this. But in thinking through the current user interface, it was apparent that the existing “private” setting could be co-opted for this with little or no penalty. For reviewers, it hides your details; for Friends users, it hides your Friends. I wanted to have a very simple and clear option: you’re either here to play, or you’re not. But it’s okay if you’re not. Select Private. I hope that does the trick.

Now about your comments: as I’ve said, I’m very impressed with the depth of thinking on this issue, and the passion with which many of you presented your cases. It is very hard to change the direction of the ship this quickly, but it just so happened that your voices coalesced – not in quantity (this isn’t a vote), but in calm intelligence. And in the end I agreed that it was the right thing to do. If this blog serves no other purpose for the remainder of its existence, it was the right forum for this dialog and it worked for y’all and for me. Amazing. (Trust me: not everything will work out this way.) Anyway, check it all out this weekend. Save some Faves. Tell people about it. I'd like to see if Faves cannot be more impactful than Friends. It’s a work in progress. I know I can count on y’all to send me your mind. Cheers.