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Facebook CEO: People Don’t Really Want Privacy Nowadays, Anyway

January 12th, 2010 01:41 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

facebook-webThere’s nothing like the launching a company from your college dorm room that achieves global Internet hegemony within a few years to make you think you can offer royal pronouncements about how the world has changed.

OK, so that was a bit melodramatic. But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg earned some howls and guffaws in the last few days over his statements saying that, in a nutshell, people aren’t terribly interested in privacy anymore. Specifically, he said:

“In the last 5 or 6 years, blogging has taken off in a huge way and all these different services that have people sharing all this information. People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that’s evolved over time.”

Some have interpreted his comments as an indication that he thinks that privacy is over and that the depth of privacy you might have expected, say, five years ago is very different to that you should expect today [BBC News]. The privacy changes that Facebook  recently made—changes that ruffled plenty of feathers—seem to be in line with Zuckerberg’s statement. From last December onwards, all Facebook users’ status updates are made publicly available unless the user actively opts to change the settings and make [it] private. Users were alerted to changes via a ‘Notification’ posted in the bottom right hand corner of the site [The Telegraph].

The self-serving element of Zuckerberg’s statements wasn’t lost on some commenters, either. The more information that Facebook users share, the more information Facebook can vacuum into whatever ad-based revenue stream they’re debuting this quarter [The Atlantic].

Not everyone, though, was mocking the baby-faced CEO. Social networking is, by nature, anything but private. The fact is that if Facebook restricted and controlled the sharing of data the way some privacy groups would like, it wouldn’t really be a social networking site and it wouldn’t have over 350 million users willingly sharing information with each other. Joining a “social” networking site and then complaining that your information is being shared is like buying an ice cream sundae and complaining that it’s cold [PC World].

And as TechCrunch points out, credit-rating agencies have been making money by gathering an enormous database of personal information since long before Facebook existed. “Honestly, a picture of you taking a bong hit in college is mice nuts compared to the mountain of data that is gathered and exploited about every single one of us every single day. You just don’t really see that other stuff because those companies don’t like to talk about the data their gathering” [TechCrunch].

Image: flickr / benstein

Source: Facebook CEO: People Don’t Really Want Privacy Nowadays, Anyway

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  • http://datababe007.blogspot.com DB

    “if Facebook restricted and controlled the sharing of data the way some privacy groups would like, it wouldn’t really be a social networking site”

    GAAAAAH!!!!! It’s not about FB “controlling the sharing of data” – it’s about GIVING USERS CONTROL OF SHARING THEIR DATA.

    How **hard** is that to understand!?!?

    [Reply]

  • http://www.dallenrose.com Ing

    PCWorld: “Joining a “social” networking site and then complaining that your information is being shared is like buying an ice cream sundae and complaining that it’s cold.”

    I beg to differ.

    We join social networking sites to share information with the people *we decide* to network with. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that having everything we do published to the web for search engines to index and made available for companies to buy and sell and profit from is NOT what I’m in Facebook or any other social network for.

    I may choose to share some things with a lot of people or broadcast an opinion to the world (as much of the world as will visit my little corner of the web, anyway), but last I checked, that didn’t give anyone an unlimited right to do anything they want with everything I put anywhere online.

    I guess it’s a good thing that Zuckerberg and Facebook are being relatively transparent with their privacy policies–it’s certainly better than what the credit-rating agencies did to all of us long ago, and are still doing–but methinks the man doth protest too much.

    [Reply]

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