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 collecting data on users, which Facebook is frequently accused of. Zuckerberg explained how Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are much worse at the practice than his company is:
Mark Zuckerberg: I mean, when you're saying that we're the light, it's because, sure people have a lot of information on Facebook. But that's information that they've put into the service.
Sheryl Sandberg: Exactly.
Mark Zuckerberg: If you look at companies, whether it's Google or Yahoo or Microsoft, right, that have search engines and ad networks, they also have a huge amount of information about you. It's just that they're collecting that about you behind your back, really. And it's like you're going -- you're going around the Web, and they have cookies, and they're collecting this huge amount of information about who you are. But you never know that. And I mean, some of these companies make an effort to give you a product where --
Charlie Rose: But do you find that a bit scary?
Mark Zuckerberg: Well, I just - I think it's -- it's just less transparent --
Sheryl Sandberg: There's no light.
Mark Zuckerberg: -- than what's happening on Facebook.
Sheryl Sandberg: It's the dark.
Mark Zuckerberg: So on Facebook someone wants to --
Sheryl Sandberg: Contact.
Mark Zuckerberg: -- target say, okay, I want to -- I want to advertise -- like I'm a band, and I'm to coming to the Bay Area, I'm going to advertise to people who like a band, and they're going to -- those people only fit if they've put in that they like that band.
Charlie Rose: Right.
Mark Zuckerberg: On those other services, you can still do that kind of advertising, but you're going to find people based on what they've browsed around on the Web and the people have little or no control over the information that a company like Google or Yahoo or Microsoft has about you. And, I don't know, I think that some of those companies have made an effort to give people to give a payage that they can go see all information that the company has about them. But, I mean, very few people are actually going to go do that. So in reality I think that these companies with big ad networks are basically getting away with collecting huge amounts of information, likely way more information than people are sharing on Facebook about themselves. But I think because people can see how much information people are sharing about themselves on Facebook --
Sheryl Sandberg: Yes.
Mark Zuckerberg: it appears scarier. But in reality, you have control over every single thing that you've shared on Facebook.
Zuckerberg is walking a fine line here. Criticizing Google is nothing new: the two companies are constantly at each other's throats. The same cannot be said, however, for Yahoo and Microsoft.
Yahoo is more and more heavily relying on Facebook and has changed from downplaying the social network to leveraging it. Microsoft has a small stake in Facebook, and the two regularly work together. I'm not sure it's wise to talk down these two, especially when the point is to explain why Facebook is superior.