Facebook lauded for privacy and security in the UK. What gives?

How ironic. Just as Scoble and Faceboook were clashing (then later making up) about who owns his 5000 contacts, a new UK report has named both Facebook and Bebo the best social networks for features like privacy and security, including how easy it is to remove personal details.

Independent consumer advocate Computing Which? found Bebo and Facebook scored 79% and 74% respectively for their features, and were rated easier to use than MySpace (not hard) and best for socialising. Bebo comes in for praise for working hard to encourage responsible networking among its younger audience. MySpace got 67%, Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces scored 65%, ahead of Friends Reunited (they still exist?) at 62%. Bizarrely, Which? also rated Saga Zone – aimed at the over-50s – and BBC Talk as social networks, which both won a five star rating. Flickr won out in the special interest category. This survey either confirms that Which? knows zip about social networks (they clearly haven’t heard about the ongoing Information Commissioner investigation into Facebook) or that the people they surveyed remain in the dark. It’s probably a combination of both.

This survey is a useful reality check. Most mainstream, non-geek, users of sites like Facebook could not give one jot about ‘data portability’ and have never heard of Robert Scoble, especially in the UK. That’s why I wrote that the Scoble incident would be a big issue, in the tech industry – not the mainstream. It will take an ordinary person being deleted from Facebook for it to enter the mainstream consciousness. I predict it will be something associated with tragedy – always a favourite of the tabloid newspapers – probably a new father who’s profile is callously deleted by Facebook the day after he is murdered by a drug gang. Facebook will be unable to do anything about this because the person will be utterly unknown to them, unlike Scoble.