Social networking - Who do you trust?

I've been trying to do a lot of things lately to make my "social networking" life easier, but technology keeps beating me down. Yesterday I created some Safari web clips so I could see Twitter, Facebook, and several other web pages on my Mac dashboard (dashboard widgets), but the Twitter and Facebook web clips kept crashing, so after several tries, I gave up.

This morning I thought fine, I'll just created an HTML web page on my desktop, and include Facebook, Twitter, and my other sites in a series of <iframe> or <frame> tags. Turns out Twitter and Facebook don't like that approach at all, which may explain why the Safari web clips kept crashing.

In a related note, when I logged into Facebook yesterday from Safari, something I've never done before, Facebook prompted me for some personal information, like my mother's maiden name, street address I grew up on, first dog's name, etc. Sorry Facebook, but I clearly don't trust you, so I skipped all those questions.

Social networking complexity and trust

Having been beaten down by technology, I finally decided I need to trust someone if my "social networking" life is going to get any easier. Right now there are just too many Mac Spaces, browsers, tabs, and clicks required to see Facebook, Twitter, email, and other information. So I figure I have to trust some company out there, but who?

  • Google? Specifically iGoogle, and third-party Google widgets?
  • Firefox widgets?
  • Chrome widgets?
  • Flock?
  • Rock Melt?
  • Someone else?

Finally figuring that I don't care if someone breaks into my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I downloaded and installed Flock a little while ago. While I think I prefer the RockMelt UI a little better than Flock, when I signed up at RockMelt they just showed a message saying, "We'll get back with you" (which may mean, "Thanks for your email address", "We don't really have a product yet", or "We've run out of venture capital funding", who knows).

Social networking, privacy, and security

I still like to keep my social networking and email stuff private, so my current configuration looks like this:

  • Facebook and Twitter now go through Flock.
  • Gmail goes through Chrome.
  • Yahoo Mail goes through Safari (Safari handles the Yahoo Mail bugs better than other browsers, at least on a Mac).
  • Almost all web browsing goes through Chrome, and often using the Chrome Incognito window.
  • Firefox ... hmm, Firefox is the odd browser out right now. I used to use it for Facebook and Twitter.

I hope that doesn't make me sound too insane. Based on Facebook's actions over the years, I just don't trust them, and I don't like ads following me from one website to another, so that's why I do what I do. If Yahoo Mail didn't have bugs I wouldn't use Safari at all, but as the saying goes, it is what it is.

If you're going to go the social route, I think companies like Google and Flock are on the right track. Google's approach of keeping all your information in the cloud makes it easy to move from one computer to another. Flock is interesting in that being an aggregator, it doesn't matter whether I use Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn, YouTube, or anything else; they aggregate it all in one spot. On top of that, their social features could clobber sites like Digg (already dying), StumbleUpon, and others.

In summary, for better or worse, when it comes to my social networking life, I'm currently putting my "trust" in Flock and Google. We'll see how that treats me.

(Follow-up: I'm now also testing a Firefox plugin named Yoono.)