Over the weekend I engaged with @treypennington through Twitter and one aspect of the conversation was how can users trust our SocialSafe Facebook application because we are a new business? – on what basis is trust given or earned? A fascinating question for us at SocialSafe because we are involved in backups of user’s Facebook data – if we are not trusted to follow Facebook privacy rules then people won’t use our application. I have searched the internet on this issue and found lots of problem reports of spam generation, phishing and worse, but not a lot on how to actually determine whether an application or service is trustworthy – clearly a difficult issue.
Facebook contains an enormous amount of data about yourself and your friends and when you let an application use your logon details that is a huge amount of trust you are placing in the application – the Facebook API allows access to most of the data Facebook has for you, and this is not controlled in the same way as your Facebook privacy settings work for friends. There are rules and principles posted by Facebook for application authors to follow, but have they followed them? – there is no way to check.
Another aspect of trust that Trey mentioned which I had not thought of before was who are we? – not the company, but the founders behind the company. A good point I think – if we put down our biographies and there is some history to what we’ve done then that is at least a pointer to our trustworthiness or not. Of course we could lie in those bios, but some searching on the internet would expose that (I hope!). This is difficult for the younger entrepreneurs I acknowledge as they do not necessarily have the history of accomplishments, but honesty can come across in writing and so even the bio of an 18 year old entrepreneur is worthwhile I suggest. We are changing our web site to reflect this point and will refer to our two founding companies, iBundle and 1Minus1, and will be adding bios to our details at iBundle.
So that gives two methods of researching the trustworthiness or not of an app. Apart from personal recommendations (and on what basis do those involve knowing whether the app is trustworthy?) what other methods are there? – I’d love to hear from you what you think of this issue and any methods you use.
A social web has to be a trustworthy web – anything that can be done to improve true trust (whilst retaining usability) must be a good thing.