Vertical Social Networking

This is another one of those question posing posts. The question for this post is: Is Vertical Social Networking important? Or do we just need more fine-grained privacy controls?

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The question is one raised indirectly by Scott Gatz in his Keep Facebook Fun post.

I will freely admit that I’m a member of Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Oh, and Yahoo 360, for good measure. I also will admit that I was sort of faced with the same issue as Scott when I started delving into Facebook after they launched The Platform. There are some people who are not my friends on Facebook because I’d consider them business associates or contacts, and for those people, I don’t really want them to know what level I’m on for the iLike Music Challenge. I don’t really care if they read my movie reviews, but I’m not sure if I want them to see all my Twitters (this is kind of a separate issue, but my Twitters are restricted to my “friends” on Twitter, but I think that all of my friends on Facebook can see them; yet another reason not to be friends with people you aren’t really friends with on Facebook).

But, instead of having two different social networks – one for “fun” and one for “business” – couldn’t I just have one social network that will allow me to place my friends/contacts into different groups with different levels of privacy?

Flickr actually does a pretty good job of this, allowing me to have Private (only me), Family, Friends, Family+Friends, and the more generic Contacts. But the privacy is really only 3 levels deep instead of a more desirable 4. I.e., My House, Walled Garden, Public. The Walled Garden is divided into two spaces, but it would be nice to have one addition level between Walled Garden and Public. There’s some photos that I wouldn’t mind sharing with my Contacts, but I don’t want to make them public to the world. So, they remain as Friends photos, and my Contacts don’t get to see them.

Of course, as I mentioned above, wouldn’t it better to let me designate what my groups are and which groups can see what? It would certainly be better for me! I know for a fact that it’s more difficult for the programmers on the other end. How do I know? Yahoo 360. (Just for good measure, remember)


I’ve tried sharing photos on Yahoo 360, but the permissions just don’t come out right. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that they let me create my own groups and put people in as many different groups as I want. Of course, if it really worked, that would be even better. But as far as I can tell, it’s still a little buggy. I’m pretty sure that no one else has tried this approach for that very reason. It’s always going to harder code and test.

But (but!) if someone could give people a social network where all the contacts are grouped into categories that are centered around the user, wouldn’t it essentially eliminate the need for any other social network? I believe it would.

Now go build it! I’d do it, but I’m working on my America’s Next Top Model fantasy game.


Posted on June 22, 2007, in Facebook, Longform, Social Networking, The New Web, Yahoo. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Vertical Social Networking.

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