Facebook Responds to Privacy Backlash


In an open column on the Washington Post’s website, Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg responded yesterday to mounting concerns regarding the privacy settings on the popular social networking site.

(To catch up, read our earlier summaries here, here, here and here.)

The statement, teeming with rhetoric and fluff, amounts to this: Facebook’s open attitude to sharing is making the world a better place. (And, oh yeah, we’ll work on that privacy thing.)

Facebook’s Privacy Problem

The assumption when a user creates an account is that everybody wants to share everything with everybody. Then, through a cryptic series of granular control settings, the user can navigate the maze of privacy settings to determine what gets shared where and with whom.


And how many people actually update their privacy settings?

What Facebook Needs To Do

By default, when a user creates an account on Facebook, the assumption should be that all information is private.

Facebook (and those who scoff at the concept of “privacy” online in general) believes that you want to share something online, you should expect it cannot be kept private. And that is simply false.

As more and more activity has migrated online (banking, the sharing of sensitive medical information, etc.), users have to come to expect privacy settings that fit the intended use. What Facebook users are telling Facebook is that their actions on Facebook are not intended for the entire world, just for their friends.

And when I send close family members information in my email, I expect Gmail to keep that private – now, my mom’s habit of forwarding things like crazy is a whole different can of worms.

What do you think?

How would you “fix” Facebook’s privacy issues? Have you had any bad run-ins with Facebook that made you rethink your settings?