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Zuckerberg Admits Facebook Missed the Mark on Privacy

Zuckerberg Admits Facebook Missed the Mark on Privacy

“Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted. We just missed the mark.” — Mark Zuckerberg

Internet privacy in general is of great concern, but Facebook is definitely in the hot seat. The latest wave of protest comes following the instant personalization pilot program that “helps you connect more easily with your friends on select partner sites. These sites personalize your experience using your public Facebook information.”

Lots of people love the feature — the problem stems from the fact that users are opted-in by default and must choose to opt-out.

Facebook has many privacy options and, for the most part, they work well. Unfortunately, the number of options has grown to an almost unmanageable amount. Users are often unaware or just plain confused about what they are sharing.

Having to opt-out of a feature that shares private information is not acceptable to most of us. Facebook could have easily avoided the uproar by installing an opt-in feature instead.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and Chief Executive of Facebook, says he has heard the complaints about user privacy and is working to correct errors and misconceptions.

In a May 24 piece for the Washington Post, Mr. Zuckerberg said, in part:

“Facebook has been growing quickly. It has become a community of more than 400 million people in just a few years. It’s a challenge to keep that many people satisfied over time, so we move quickly to serve that community with new ways to connect with the social Web and each other. Sometimes we move too fast — and after listening to recent concerns, we’re responding.

The biggest message we have heard recently is that people want easier control over their information. In the coming weeks, we will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use. We will also give you an easy way to turn off all third-party services.

Many people choose to make some of their information visible to everyone so people they know can find them on Facebook. We already offer controls to limit the visibility of that information and we intend to make them even stronger.

Here are the principles under which Facebook operates:

– You have control over how your information is shared.

– We do not share your personal information with people or services you don’t want.

– We do not give advertisers access to your personal information.

– We do not and never will sell any of your information to anyone.

– We will always keep Facebook a free service for everyone.”

Read the entire text of Mark Zuckerberg’s article.

With Facebook on the defense over privacy, new startups are angling for a slice of the pie. A New York Times article names several newcomers working on breaking into Facebook’s market:, Appleseed, Diaspora, Collegiate Nation, OneSocialWeb, Crabgrass, and Elgg, to name a few worth keeping your eye on.

Despite protests like “QuitFacebookDay,” and “FacebookProtest,” which are garnering plenty of attention, I wouldn’t count Facebook out. They’ve dealt with privacy issues before, and membership is still growing.

Lawmakers are responding to public concerns and are considering legislation to address internet privacy issues.

  • April 26: Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook: “I am asking the FTC to use the authority given to it to examine practices in the disclosure of private information from social networking sites and to ensure users have the ability to prohibit the sharing of personal information,” Schumer continued. “If the FTC feels it does not have the authority to do so under current regulations I will support them in obtaining the tools and authority to do just that.”
  • May 4: U.S. Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) released a discussion draft of legislation to assure the privacy of information about individuals both on the internet and offline.
  • May 18: The Electronic Privacy Information Center sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission requesting investigation into Google’s collection of user data off its “Street View” application, saying that it appears to violate federal wiretap laws.
  • May 19: U.S. Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Edward Markey, (D-MA) wrote to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Liebowitz about Google’s recent revelation that it gathered information sent over Wi-Fi networks.

The internet is tailor-made for information sharing. Some of us are willing to share more of ourselves than others and, with that in mind, Facebook owes it to its members to simplify privacy settings.

We need stricter privacy laws when it comes to the internet, but that does not absolve us of the personal responsibility to think before we post.


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10:08AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

Coal is the single biggest cause of global warming and by far the dirtiest and most polluting way to generate electricity. Facebook should be choosing renewable or at least less destructive sources for its huge energy needs.

10:07AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

Why why why do people put their REAL information online? I have seen addresses, phone numbers, real birth dates with real name including the middle initials. Open targets for identity theft, honestly. If anyone can figure out your name and where you live they can seriously go through your garbage to gather even more information about you. The viruses are also VERY real. I personally got Vundo on Facebook going into groups. Never ever ever put your real information online. Is Mark & Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook will be exacerbating Climate Change with their new coal burning plant that I do not hear boo about? If they aren't going to sell you they are going to kill you and wildlife with their new Coal Burning plant in Oregon. As of January 2010 Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest self-made businessman worth more than a billion dollars he has no right hurting people in the ways he is and it is his call! The rich get richer while the poor get sicker??? No I do not understand why this is being covered up or not taken seriously either.

1:27PM PDT on Jul 29, 2010

A Newsweek article printed earlier this year reminded its readers that Facebook's true customers are the companies that advertise on it.

1:22PM PDT on Jul 29, 2010

This article does make you think hard about unintended and unwanted exposure.

2:53PM PDT on Jun 3, 2010

Facebook scandal. They lied to us users about our privacy and that it would never be shared with third-parties.... They can collect personal date/info.

5:13PM PDT on May 30, 2010

I am just disgusted with facebook and I'm not sure why so many of my friends love it, it's a mystery to me. I have a facebook account and use it for spreading the word on everything nasty that is going on in the world, to make people aware. But I do not like the way people I have never heard of suddenly want to befriend me.

12:30PM PDT on May 28, 2010


6:09AM PDT on May 27, 2010

good article thanks for posting

5:49AM PDT on May 27, 2010

i don´t like facebook - just the thing that you can´t erase your site - the keep it, is enough for me....

1:25PM PDT on May 26, 2010

I grew up as part of this digital generation.
I don't value my privacy as much as others seem to. I blog about my life, I upload photos, I share many details of my life online. I have friends I've never met face-to-face. I don't share sensitive banking details or my personal telephone number, but almost everything else is fair game.
I'm not ashamed of who I am, and it doesn't bother me to know the the world has access to the digital record of my life. I don't care if people around the whole can see my name or my photos or read my opinions.
We live in a global, public world.

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