Mark Zuckerberg's mission: Develop Facebook sans privacy flaps

Mark Zuckerberg's mission: Develop Facebook sans privacy flaps

Summary: If Facebook's new privacy settings are successful, the company will manage to do something it hasn't been able to yet: Decouple product development and its privacy policy.

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Updated: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook's new privacy settings, which are designed to be more simple and user friendly, and the talk was quite the balancing act. If successful, Facebook will manage to do something it hasn't been able to yet: Put product development and its privacy policy into their respective corners.

Until today, a new feature from Facebook would require a set response from me as a user. If there was a new feature, I'd need to check my privacy settings. If Facebook gets these privacy changes right I won't have to sweat a new feature because my settings will carry forward.

The key points from the Facebook press conference:

  • Zuckerberg said the company's changes were a reflection that Facebook listens.
  • However, he noted that a lot of the privacy hubbub was overblown based on user data---the News Feed feature caused a much larger backlash. In fact, more people were worried about Facebook charging money than privacy.
  • But Zuckerberg said Facebook's privacy changes were designed to put the flap to bed for a while. Settings today will apply to new features in the future.
  • "We're really going to try not to have another backlash," said Zuckerberg.

Add it up and you have a Facebook move that aims to separate privacy settings and policy changes from new features in the future, including a location service that's still being cooked up.

Also: Facebook launches simplified privacy controls Zuckerberg blog ZDNet Facebook page Techmeme

"Facebook is not a solved problem, there's so much more we have to do," said Zuckerberg, who sounded almost like a politician at times. That pol approach is almost understandable given the vast gray area that is Facebook.

Overall, Facebook's move to solidify and simplify its privacy settings makes a lot of sense. Here's the cycle Facebook's product development is currently in:

  • Facebook launches new feature;
  • Alters is 5,000 word plus privacy policy;
  • Users get confused and angry;
  • Backlash ensues;
  • Zuckerberg listens, backtracks a bit, tells you everyone wants to share and then gives you more settings.

It's quite tiring eh? But that's Facebook's legacy. It started out as a mostly private site that opened up the user data spigot. If Facebook's default was always open you wouldn't have these privacy skirmishes. That's why Facebook's move Wednesday---if successful---is critical. The company has to get off the privacy-flap-go-round for its own sanity as well as its users'.

Now it remains to be seen if these privacy settings are really more simple. There will also be questions about why you have to still opt out---Zuckerberg says people like to share so that's the default. "The kernel of what we do is that people want to stay connected. There's a view of the world that all information should stay private. That's not what the users have told us they want. We really do believe in privacy and giving people control," said Zuckerberg.

The real trick is providing that control and continuing to innovate. Facebook can make the privacy discussion separate from new product features today will have been a big success.

Topics: Security, CXO, Enterprise Software, Social Enterprise

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9 comments
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  • It's not about innovation

    It's about money, when Facebook jumps the shark and a new shiny service comes along the money will not be there. So I enjoy staying in touch with friends only and never post anything into my FB profile I wouldn't want my Mama to see...it is rather simple. If you don't like it, then don't use it. And if you complain about a service you never used, then how can anything you say be taken seriously?
    ThePrairiePrankster
  • Thailand army kills people & Facebook

    Here Mark, in Thailand recently the army killed a lot of people, then censored the news and block websites including CNN Facebook and YouTube from it's people.

    In Thailand, they were telling Thai people that the terrorist red shirts were shooting their own people, but the videos show the army was killing them.

    Now the trouble with playing fast and loose with people privacy, is in some countries there are army generals and Kings and dictators who think nothing of a mass slaughter of their own people. You giving away their info away when you're not supposed to is a real and actual threat to their LIFE.

    So quit with the privacy games. The defaults should be privacy.

    Army shooting at protesters
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-ISBKMOEqQ

    Army shooting at bangkok people shouting to be allowed to take a shot protester to hospital.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=metyQhHx4o4

    Here's Prime Murderer Abhisit lying to Thai people, with some interesting captions:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gpkcchyhdo
    guihombre
    • Amazing Thailand

      Fancy a holiday in Thailand?

      Why not see the army on parade in bangkok:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_FRWXfPAA0&NR=1

      Isn't the internet brilliant? On the one hand unelected governments try to suppress it, on the other, people find ways around the blocks.

      And my voice carries as much weight as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vimon Kidchop:

      http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=125348847492367

      That BTW is a facebook group aimed at making CNN stop reporting the negative Thai reporting.
      guihombre
  • RE: Mark Zuckerberg's mission: Decouple Facebook features from privacy settings

    (satire)

    There is a way to insure your privacy on Failbook - DO NOT USE IT!!!

    (/sarcasm)

    Works every time!
    fatman65535
  • Zuckerberg doesn't care one iota about anybody's privacy

    He only cares about his own wallet. Stop using Facebook and be free from Zuckerberg's idiocy.
    sismoc
  • RE: Mark Zuckerberg's mission: Decouple Facebook features from privacy settings

    Yawn...
    jedikitty@...
  • RE: Mark Zuckerberg's mission: Decouple Facebook features from privacy settings

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