Facebook's Zuckerberg on Increasing the Streams of Personal Information Online

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was interviewed at the Web 2.0 Summit, and he revealed few key insights into his attitude towards the fact Facebook has spurred an increase in personal information flows online. In short — and in line with Facebook’s business model — he seems quite giddy at the prospect that people are sharing more and more about their personal lives on his website.

At about minute 15:22 in his interview, he relates the following (I’m paraphrasing a bit for clarity):

“Four years ago, when Facebook was just getting started, most people didn’t want to put information about themselves on the Internet. So, we got people through this really big hurdle of getting people to want to put up their full name, a real picture, mobile phone number…and connections to real people.”

So glad Facebook has been able to help me get through this “hurdle” of wanting to preserve some privacy online.

Zuckerberg claims that what allowed me to overcome this hurlde was “by building really good privacy controls.” His expression of pride over FB’s privacy controls ignores that most of its most effective privacy-protecting measures only were instituted after significant outcry by the public (see News Feed and Beacon for two examples).

When John Battelle (the interviewer) notes that often the privacy controls are unknown or ignored by uses, Zuckerberg seems to laugh it off by simply replying “well, the privacy controls are there. The point is, as time goes on people are sharing more and more information.” Nice. At least Facebook (and its advertising partners and 3rd-party application developers) gets access to the information. Whether you decide to take advantage of the “really good privacy controls”…well….it seems you’re on your own with that. (For readers who might be looking for a bit more help in finding and adjusting their privacy settings on Facebook, see my guide here).

Later in the interview (about minute 33:00), Zuckerberg repeats his glee that more and more personal information is being shared through his servers. He notes:

“I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much information as they share this year, and next year, they will be sharing twice as much as they did the year before. That means that people are using Facebook, and the applications and the ecosystem, more and more.

…as long as the stream of information is constantly increasing, and as long as we’re doing our job…our role of pushing that forward, I think that’s….the best strategy for us.”

As long as Facebook is doing its job to push people to share more personal information online…as long as the stream of information is constantly increasing….as long as Facebook can get people over the hurlde of not wanting to share information online….

No wonder my plea hasn’t been answered…

4 Comments

  1. I guess everyone is understanding now that giving your name and email is not loosing privacy … neither is even if you give your mobile, company name … for now, privacy lies on not sharing personal video or photography, but if it is yourself in the name of a business or a hobbie, why not? next privacy boundary will be geo information.

    Reply
  2. I completely agree with your previous blog post concerning value-conscious design. I’ve created an application on Facebook to help raise privacy awareness. I’ve found most users do not realize how much personal information is available to third party applications. When they are informed, most users are very interested in changing their settings. Facebook and OpenSocial need to do a better job setting the default values for privacy. If you get a chance, check out my app

    http://apps.facebook.com/privaware/

    Reply
  3. J Beck: thanks for the comment. I suspect your application is similar to the Privacy application that reveals what information applications can access. However, your app’s page doesn’t give any information about what it does. Without any description or way for me to evaluate, I’m certainly not going to install it.

    Reply

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