This article was published on December 12, 2009

How about a little privacy.

How about a little privacy.
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Former CEO of The Next Web. A fan of startups, entrepreneurship, getting things done faster, penning the occasional blog post, taking photos Former CEO of The Next Web. A fan of startups, entrepreneurship, getting things done faster, penning the occasional blog post, taking photos, designing, listening to good music and making lurrrve.

lbb32rFacebook had something special, but with ever changing privacy settings that’d confuse even the most seasoned of web geeks, frustration is kicking in.

It was the ultimate telephone book, an up to date list of your friends of old and new, family and colleagues, along with contact details and recent photos and video. This tight-knit network, with privacy being Facebook’s primary concern, had  a strictly opt-in approach to new features that may expose any of your content.

Twitter’s rise in popularity has seen the rapid twitterfication of Facebook. Privacy simply doesn’t appear to be a priority any more, in fact quite the opposite, and with 350 million users all using the site free of charge, it’s hardly surprising. Facebook are a business doing all they can with the information you supposedly are happy to share.

Anyhow, this piece isn’t an attempt to regurgitate the countless articles critiquing Facebook’s privacy settings, what it is however is a call out to entrepreneurs and founders to say the social network game is not over.

Privacy is an extremely valuable commodity and with Facebook unsure what to do with it, it’s there for a new kind of social network to embrace.

Some say privacy is dead. I say it’s alive but unwell. I still want a place to go where privacy is paramount, where there’s little option to make anything public. A place opposite to Twitter, where all the friends I’ve met, grown up with, experienced life with, are. A place where we can post our private contact details liberally (and keep them up to date), and where 99% of the time you’re likely to find your friends up-to-date mobile number posted on their profile. Of course, all of this should be within two clicks access of my mobile device or browser.

This place I seek is potentially already out there. Incidentally, aSmallWorld immediately comes to mind, despite it being considered a social network for the wealthy. Where it wins is that it hands out limited invites forcing you think very carefully about who you accept as friends. Secondly, it goes to the extent of warning you before you accept friendship requests, a clever and sensible way to ensure your “friends” are your friends. That said, aSmallWorld is unlikely to be it, it’s “social network for the rich” mentality is engrained into its branding. An alternative site with a similar privacy and friendship approach (and possibly even a subscription based business model) however,  I feel there is a place for. Do you?

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