Facebook vs Mixi With Respect to Privacy

July 15, 2008

In a previous post I talked about how facebook might challenge mixi in japan. In a nutshell, I thought the apps that allow people in Facebook to interact and “play” together would be a big factor in the success of Facebook in Japan. I’ve also given some thought to the privacy issues involved with both Mixi and Facebook.

I’d been thinking about Facebook and Mixi lately because I use both of them off and on, but I use Facebook more than Mixi. Facebook works as sort of an email account for certain people I am friends with for whome a Facebook message would get a faster response than an email.

I realized recently that I’ve got my picture on my facebook account, but I would never consider putting my own picture on my Mixi.jp profile. In fact, very few people use pictures of themselves on their Mixi profiles. Many people, in fact, use pictures of famous or not so famous actors and actresses, their pets, or random pictures off of the internet.

This is what got me thinking…

You see, people in Japan like to think that Mixi is a relatively safe online social networking service because of the invitation system involved. Basically, you can’t sign up for Mixi unless someone invites you.

When Mixi was still small this made it a very closenit community, and you could always rest assured that if anyone did anything against the rules, they could be tracked down through their connections. The other way that people are held accountable is through registering their cell phones or a home email address, or some other piece of personal data.

With Mixi being as huge as it is now, the invitations are easy to come by, and there are plenty of ways to fudge the other background information they ask for.

Most people think that getting the invitation and becoming a member of Mixi is similar to joining and registering with Facebook, however the amount of information that can be seen by non-friends is quite different.

If you make your privacy settings in Facebook so that only friends can see your profile, non-friends will only be able to see a small version of your picture, your name, location, and the number of mutual friends the two of you have.

In Mixi however, the highest level of privacy you can have still allows non-friends to see still allows people to see your entire top page which includes your main photo, all of your “my mixi” people (the mixi equivalent to friends in Facebook), all the communities you are a member of, as well as your self introduction!

Although at first glance it seems that Mixi’s invitation system would lead to a stronger sense of privacy, the reality is that Facebook actually has stricter privacy settings than Mixi.

I believe that if Facebook keeps trying to expand into the market here emphasis on such things as privacy, anti-spam measures, and fun and useful apps that can be used to communicate indirectly instead of the outdated “footprint” system in Mixi, Facebook can take a lot of the good traffic away from Mixi.Technoratiのタグ ,