Zuckerberg: People vote with feet on privacy

Facebook products in the past have created controversy over privacy, but people get used to new features that initially scare them, founder Mark Zuckerberg has told the e-G8 Forum.Facebook services which have increasingly allowed 'friends' to keep track of each other have drawn criticism from users, who then begin to use them, Zuckerberg told the e-G8 Forum conference on Wednesday.

Facebook products in the past have created controversy over privacy, but people get used to new features that initially scare them, founder Mark Zuckerberg has told the e-G8 Forum.

Facebook services which have increasingly allowed 'friends' to keep track of each other have drawn criticism from users, who then begin to use them, Zuckerberg told the e-G8 Forum conference on Wednesday.

"We'll roll it out, and pretty often there'll be this backlash, and people will say, ok, we don't like this new thing," said Zuckerberg. "It's I think a real anxiety. People were really afraid of more people being able to be involved in the social network."

Zuckerberg said that one million people, or ten percent of the Facebook userbase, in 2006 protested against Facebook's news feed service, which gives updates about what 'friends' are doing.

"People thought that, you know, it was just too much, right, they wanted to share stuff on the site but they didn't want it to be so much in people's face," said Zuckerberg. "You know now it's just part of the site that I think most people in a way would be like 'What's going on? How can there be Facebook without this?'"

Zuckerberg said that Platform, which gives third party developers access to peoples' 'friends', was "fairly controversial". He said that Facebook took steps so that "everything is under good control, and there isn't a lot of abuse."

Zuckerberg added that "one of the good things about the internet is you can just kind of build something, and people will choose to use it or not, and that's how we win debates."

Privacy campaign group Privacy International told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that Zuckerberg should recognise that privacy encroachment can become normalised.

"Human behaviour is peer driven," Privacy International director Simon Davies said. "People will go along with what their peers believe is the norm. People will continue to feel uncomfortable about sharing information, and it won't do Facebook any favours in the long term not to recognise that."

Davies said it was possible to have strong privacy safeguards and still have fluid data sharing.

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