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Privacy: Is Zuckerberg Misreading? Or Is This a Story at All?

By - January 10, 2010

Reading coverage of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s recent commentary on his company’s newly changed privacy policies, I was struck with the urge to ask all of you a question: Do you think this is a big deal? Or is this simply the evolution of our society’s ongoing contract with the individual, an evolution that Facebook is reflecting?

In short, as Marshall submits in his article on RWW, is Facebook trailing public sentiment on privacy, or is he forging it? I’d love your thoughts in comments.

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  • Rahul

    I think it is a big deal. It was a big enough issue for me to delete all of my photo albums, notes, and any profile photo’s that had photos of my son.

    I am re-evaluating my participation as a user of Facebook. I haven’t yet thought about the implications as a marketer.

    I think that Facebook has continued to change the rules of engagement with their end users. These kinds of comments may cause their demise – as they quickly erode trust. News travels fast on Facebook.

  • ml

    honestly I think it’s in situations like this where Zuckerberg’s immaturity shows through. His backwards reasoning that this is what people want when he’s controlling much of it is disingenuous at best. It’s almost like if they go too far they can claim being ahead of the curve or claim they misread intentions of their users.

    I’m with the school that Facebook is wanting to monetize on their data, and they can’t readily do that without it being more public. Which is exactly why people left MySpace for FB and one of the reasons they will leave FB when they get bored of the push-push communication and spammers, which is where they’re headed.

  • p6ril

    I’d say it’s a chicken an egg problem. However what is for sure is that most of the users don’t read the privacy policies. Most of them don’t check the confidentiality options and leave the recommended values by default. Finally I guess that most people haven’t really thought about how their information can be misused or can backfire at them. The dark side of these ongoing trends is not yet part of our social education. It’s the same about mobile phone. Many people have one but not that many are using it cautiously and politely. We consume more and more technologies, while new technologies appear at an incredibly fast pace, but we don’t learn (don’t have the time, don’t take the time?) how to use them and we don’t really thing about what it may tell about us. This is a big issue. Unfortunately without being paranoid it’s part of the human nature to deviate good intents from their initial purpose or to transform things for one’s own benefit. Most people don’t care until they’re confronted with their digital self in an unpleasant way.
    Reversely should Facebook be held responsible for people not doing things in a responsible way? The limit here is certainly not white or black.
    Finally Facebook may seem free (as in free as a beer) but definitely it’s all about money, strategic positioning and survival in a more and more competitive world.

  • anon (obviously!)

    i’m in the monetizing camp as well – they’re doing it to make money; and justification otherwise is disingenous (but expected!)

    as a bit of evidence, if they were truly just thinking that people’s default has shifted to non-private, then they’d make it supereasy for those of us that do like privacy to adjust their settings accordingly. But they don’t. When i switched back to private, i think there were about 10-15 different boxes i need to tick. Where is the ‘i’m a private person’ tick box?

  • saran

    privacy + trust + security = a triangle, changing onething will affect the shape.

  • http://www.kk.org Kevin Kelly

    Privacy is an illusion. — KK, 1998

  • http://www.no1onsports.com Antonis

    If they are more things that we let public then there are more things that the search engines can see?

    That could lead to more viewings more impressions for the marketers and more money for facebook.

    What we do have to understand as a society is that Facebook is a place to meet people that havent seen for a long time but its not a place to expose our social and personal life. We are the sole responsibles for what pictures we upload over there…if we dont care then i dont think facebook will care either. The whole anouncement was normal on there side i think..

  • http://www.lizhover.com Liz

    Funnily enough I was talking about this very issue today.

    I have no idea whether Facebook is trailing public sentiment.

    What I do know is that until last month I had two Facebook accounts because at some point in the past 18 months I was worried about my privacy.

    I’m not anymore. I echo the sentiment that public is the new private. You only need glance at major websites and see that without giving some of yourself, you won’t get anything back.

    You have to ‘put yourself out there’ to an extent.

    Yes, it’s a risk but if you don’t grab hold you’ll be left behind.

    And until summer last year I was worried about my privacy online. Then I realised, if I have nothing to hide and

  • http://TheTechnologist.TV Sid Gabriel

    Yes, it is a very big deal. We all remember how we once looked at Friendster or Myspace. Or even Blogger.

    The users didn’t ask for privacy issues. We came to Facebook for privacy and went to Twitter and elsewhere for the open to the world revolution.

    You can see that the majority preferred to watch the realtime data show from the relative safety of our little tight knit groups. The ones that started in our newly independent days and were a million miles away from mom and dad.

    Then Facebook, the worlds most attention hungry and juvinile copycat became obsessed with Twitter. (like many of us at the time)

    Zuckerberg and the Investor Posse decided to spend a couple years building out fan pages and letting the Groups users had since the beginning just sit there and well,.. get old looking.

    The whole time giving no significant new features to the social networking components. veryone could see that in the wave of friends that they now had to become a fan of as well.

    Meanwhile Twitter was freeing the rebels. Facebook published posts mentioning it’s role in cultural shifts. Which seemed completely disingenuous.

    I believe that’s when the powers that be (the makers of things) decided it would be a pretty cool thing if a BigCO who loves to do good things for free and who is publicly traded and regulated by the tapayers made some kind of social graph API that would allow us to apply the social principles of sharing, commenting and meritocracy to any piece of content anywhere without a central entity policing it.

    Work began on that and the technologists have been waiting for it to be ready.

    The privacy issue ensures that the forthcoming Social Graph API will enable products the market is rabid for. The same kind of products that, curiously, Facebook once was. You know, a social-graph-aware friend managing service that didn’t give your info to your mom, the government, or the human stalker/predator down the street.

    Everyone I know makes inferences that the cost of Facebook is too high. They feel unsafe.

    Facebook’s Cease and Desist sent to SuicideMachine is the data that speaks. It amplifies the feeling of being trapped and addicted.

    The damage is done and it cannot be undone. Once a network has begun collapsing it collapses until the cost of the network reaches equilibrium with the other networks in proximity. In this world, Google is the bedrock network surrounding the collapsing entity.

    The people who have stock in Facebook will do their best to tell everyone how great it is while looking for an exit. Once there is an overt exit, everyone will see which way the wind is blowing and it’ll be a waiting game of who gets to drink the Pinot and who’s stuck holding the Sprite. http://www.siliconvalley.com/venture-capital-survey/ci_5186421

    I don’t know if you believe in sentiment analysys but “Facebook” has been in the negative %80 range on all the algorithms when paired with “privacy” for months now.
    http://twittersentiment.appspot.com/search?query=facebook+privacy

    You can watch the tweets pour in. Zuckerberg blew it. As soon as the cool kids land in a visible place, Facebook will cascade down to a number of users and a degree distribution of friend nodes that follows the same power law as every scale-free network on the planet. Once the hubs are gone, they rarely return. I never re-created my Friendster page after I deleted it.

    You’d best adopt OAUTH for your site login, because I’m not using Facebook Connect ever again and most of my content already reaches FB second hand.

    I hope this fell on welcome ears. It’s only a tough pill if your an investor in FaceBook. It’s an amazing future to imagine having a standard for social data that allows us to comment on anything or look at other’s comments on things and keep private whatever we want as well as keep “our little club”

  • http://www.thebenefitguys.ca/group-benefits Group Insurance

    Privacy with facebook always existed to a degree. The problem was it was a pain to go through all of the steps to retsrict viewing access to only certain people. I had “friends” I could view most of their profile, but I was blocked out of pictures. If people think it is important to upload 500, a 1000+ pictures to Facebook, they have bigger issues then privacy.

  • James
  • Craig

    Are you guys fucking retarded or what? Of course they’re fucking doing it to make money! Mark Zuckerbergs personal fortune went up nearly 5 billion dollars in a single year. Some people are so intensely retarded it’s not even funny