Facebook COO: one day, we'll be like caller ID

In a recent interview, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg explained how it's normal for Facebook to have privacy issues. She likened it to the problems caller ID faced when the technology first emerged.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Last week, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg as well as the company's COO Sheryl Sandberg sat down with PBS broadcast journalist Charlie Rose. The interview aired earlier this week and contains many juicy details on a variety of topics.

One of the subject matters discussed was of course privacy. Zuckerberg explained how Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are much worse at collecting data about its users than his company is, while Sandberg took a different angle:

Sheryl Sandberg: And there's a responsibility individuals have. Certainly we want to teach people, and people want to teach people to share things they want to share. I think that if you look at the history of technology, what you always find is that every new technology brings unbelievable opportunities for advancement and living our lives differently, and it's also scary. I mean, one of my favorite stories on this is caller ID. When caller ID was rolled out, and I'm actually old enough to remember this, unlike my friend over here --

Mark Zuckerberg: No, I had caller ID.

Sheryl Sandberg: Do you remember before caller ID?

Mark Zuckerberg: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sheryl Sandberg: Oh, oh, that's good. Normally, normally --

Charlie Rose: But you don't remember before caller ID. That's the point --

Sheryl Sandberg: No, he says he does.

Charlie Rose: Oh, you do?

Mark Zuckerberg: I remember before everyone had it. And maybe it was --

Charlie Rose: Oh.

Sheryl Sandberg: All right, that kind of sort of counts, when caller ID came out, there was a big privacy uproar. People though it was a violation of the caller's privacy that their number would show. There was talk of legislation. There was talk of states banning it.

Charlie Rose: There was talk of a way you could avoid it being seen and all that.

Sheryl Sandberg: Ways you could avoid it being seen because it was considered -- I don't know anyone who answers a call that doesn't have caller ID now because it's not considered a violation of that privacy. It's considered my right to know who's calling me. Otherwise, why would I answer? And so, yes, when you are an early leader like we are in technology, there is always concern, and you're going to continue to hear concerns.

Charlie Rose: You know why I have caller ID? Because when I'm calling people, I want them to know it's me calling, other than "unknown" because I feel they're more likely to answer my call if they now it's me.

Sheryl Sandberg: But that is something that caller ID is widely accepted. It was a privacy uproar at its time.

Sandberg is essentially saying that Facebook's challenge in privacy is finding a balance: the company needs to constantly push forward but at a pace that doesn't scare all of its members away. She believes Facebook users having privacy concerns now is expected, but eventually the social network will become the norm and it won't questioned anymore.

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