Drama 2.0: Jakob Lodwick and Vimeo

Since every weekend must have some drama in the blogosphere, and Mike Arrington hasn’t missed any conferences lately (that I know of), the drama quotient must be filled by Jakob Lodwick, the geeky co-founder of video-sharing site Vimeo — and also a much-loved target of Valleywag cheap shots about him and his red-hot girlfriend Julia Allison. Jake and Julia, in typical celebrity 2.0 fashion, invite such attacks by posting their every thought and action on their blog.

According to a post that has since been removed from Jakob’s own blog, he has left Connected Ventures — the parent company of Vimeo and also two other sites founded by the same group: Busted Tees and CollegeHumor.com. After being acquired last year, all are now the property of Barry Diller and his InterActive Corp. conglomerate, and there have been suggestions that Jake and his bare-all, bong-huffing ways didn’t mesh very well with IAC (imagine my surprise).

It being a slow news day — and/or a topic that Owen Thomas and the rest of the gang just can’t resist writing about — Valleywag has so far written not just one and not just two, but three posts about Jakob and Vimeo, including one about how he had left, one about the fact that he was supposedly fired, and one about whether Julia’s breasts were somehow involved.

Julia amps up the Drama 2.0 by posting on their shared blog that she wished she hadn’t learned of Jakob’s departure from the company he had been with for seven years by reading about it on his blog — which calls to mind her similarly unimpressed posts about Jakob and his shortcomings in the boyfriend department from earlier this year.

Back in the real world, various reports say that Jakob wasn’t fired but left amicably — and that he wasn’t the only recent departure from Connected Ventures, with one other co-founder having left just before him and one having left at the same time, suggesting a potential purge of some kind. Meanwhile, a commenter on TechCrunch’s post says:

“Jakob’s not meek, but he’s not some useless douche. He actually conceived and built a brilliant site that makes YouTube look like a third-grade after-school project. He ran a productive but amazingly happy team, and he inspired love for his site from its users.

Jakob laid his life spread-eagle on the web, and for that he deserves ridicule, like all the rest of us exhibitionists. But it’s lazy and stupid to write off his entire value as a person.”

A surprisingly rational comment amid a sea of Schadenfreude (and worse) and Jakob and the Vimeo phenomenon. I’m sure it’s a coincidence that the commenter was named Matthew 🙂 Update: As Megan has since pointed out in a comment here, that example of rationality appears to be a carbon copy of a comment made by Nick Douglas on Valleywag. Obviously someone liked Nick’s comment enough to pretend it was theirs — and now I’m left agreeing with Nick Douglas.

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So the Facebook Beacon privacy train continues to careen down the tracks, braking hard in the turns and doing its best not to come flying off the rails altogether. Already, some of the passengers — including Coca-Cola, a large maker of carbonated sugar-water that you may have heard of — have jumped off the train, saying they aren’t sure that Facebook can salvage the idea and actually produce anything of value for them.

One of the issues for both New York Times writer Louise Story and for Coca-Cola, apparently, is whether Beacon was originally supposed to be — or is now — an “opt in” service. According to her post on the Bits blog, Ms. Story thought Mark Zuckerberg promised it would be opt in, and apparently Coca-Cola got that impression too. To further confuse the issue, Ms. Story now believes that Facebook has changed it to be opt in, but Henry Blodget of Silicon Alley Insider says that isn’t the case.

As I understand it now, Facebook captures your information through a tracking cookie, and will show you what it has captured when you log in to the site, and then ask you whether you want that data to be sent out to your friends through your news feed. That sounds pretty much like an opt-in service to me — but not to everyone. Some say it’s only opt-in if there’s a global “yes I want you to track my info” button somewhere. Mark Zuckerberg seems to feel that by signing up for Facebook, you have effectively opted-in to that idea.

So was Beacon supposed to be opt-in to begin with? According to Ms. Story, her understanding was that Facebook would give users the ability to opt in before releasing their data — but as far as we can tell from the comments made by him and by a Facebook spokesman, they actually meant the opposite: that users would get the ability to opt out, by saying they didn’t want to broadcast the information. If they didn’t opt out, in other words, they had effectively opted in. Confused yet?

About all we know at this point is that Facebook is tangled in a rat’s nest of who said what, and who meant what, and the chorus of criticism is growing louder. As Hank mentions, Moveon’s petition is one thing, but when a major customer like Coca-Cola thinks you’re playing fast and loose with what you promised to do, then you have problems.