Facebook CEO: People Don't Really Want Privacy Nowadays, Anyway

By Andrew Moseman | January 12, 2010 3:41 pm

facebook-webThere’s nothing like the launching a company from your college dorm room that achieves global Internet hegemony within a few years to make you think you can offer royal pronouncements about how the world has changed.

OK, so that was a bit melodramatic. But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg earned some howls and guffaws in the last few days over his statements saying that, in a nutshell, people aren’t terribly interested in privacy anymore. Specifically, he said:

“In the last 5 or 6 years, blogging has taken off in a huge way and all these different services that have people sharing all this information. People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that’s evolved over time.”

Some have interpreted his comments as an indication that he thinks that privacy is over and that the depth of privacy you might have expected, say, five years ago is very different to that you should expect today [BBC News]. The privacy changes that Facebook  recently made—changes that ruffled plenty of feathers—seem to be in line with Zuckerberg’s statement. From last December onwards, all Facebook users’ status updates are made publicly available unless the user actively opts to change the settings and make [it] private. Users were alerted to changes via a ‘Notification’ posted in the bottom right hand corner of the site [The Telegraph].

The self-serving element of Zuckerberg’s statements wasn’t lost on some commenters, either. The more information that Facebook users share, the more information Facebook can vacuum into whatever ad-based revenue stream they’re debuting this quarter [The Atlantic].

Not everyone, though, was mocking the baby-faced CEO. Social networking is, by nature, anything but private. The fact is that if Facebook restricted and controlled the sharing of data the way some privacy groups would like, it wouldn’t really be a social networking site and it wouldn’t have over 350 million users willingly sharing information with each other. Joining a “social” networking site and then complaining that your information is being shared is like buying an ice cream sundae and complaining that it’s cold [PC World].

And as TechCrunch points out, credit-rating agencies have been making money by gathering an enormous database of personal information since long before Facebook existed. “Honestly, a picture of you taking a bong hit in college is mice nuts compared to the mountain of data that is gathered and exploited about every single one of us every single day. You just don’t really see that other stuff because those companies don’t like to talk about the data their gathering” [TechCrunch].

Related Content:
80beats: Facebook and Myspace Kick Out Thousands of NY Sex Offenders
80beats: Bankrupt Spam King Is Ordered To Pay Facebook $711 Million
Discoblog: Stole a Piece of the Internets? Prepare to Be Arrested.
Discoblog: Are Happy Facebook Pics Proof That You Aren’t Depressed?

Image: flickr / benstein

  • http://clubneko.net Nick

    “From last December onwards, all Facebook users’ status updates are made publicly available unless the user actively opts to change the settings and make [it] private. Users were alerted to changes via a ‘Notification’ posted in the bottom right hand corner of the site”

    And they *warn* you “hey, you’re making all your stuff friends only! Are you really, truly sure you don’t want everyone knowing private, intimate details about your life that you post up for your friends?”

    There’s not much personal info on my blog. My facebook is private, thank you.

    There’s also this neat article at Singularity Hub about an iPhone app that will basically do a background check on someone provided you have a little seed info on them, name, email and such. http://singularityhub.com/2010/01/13/check-your-date-before-you-mate-iphone-has-an-app-for-that/

  • Bill

    Facebook is bigger than Jesus.

  • Linda

    All of my communities are private and yes many of us out there do want complete privacy and only allow people we know to view our postings.

  • my name isnt really Tom

    Nick-thanks for the tip! I could have found out about my bankrupt, cheating, dieased wh_re of an ex girlfriend before I nearly caught her Hepatitis..

    Please don’t let it go to your head, you tend to babble on sanctimoniously with your comments.

  • Angie

    I don´t think we need these double standards in here. Just to create some fairness I shall state: Guys who sleep with many women are wh..res too. Does anybody know a male wh..e? I am sure you can think of at least one. I can (he is a “bit” older than me though, so he didn´t break my heart..)

    As for facebook: I wouldn´t be able to enjoy my private life THAT much, if everybody else knew everything about it. That would feel SO WEIRD! Even a detail as small as what kind of movies I watch (and when and where)… it just wouldn´t be fun anymore! For some reason I do appreciate having my own privacy, even if Mr. Facebook thinks I am old-fashioned. I´ll survive that. So guess who refuses to log in as a facebook member. Hehe. You´re not gonna get me Mr. Facebook. So there.

  • http://www.socialcubix.com/services/agency-solutions Facebook Agency

    Its not like that. Facebook is all about privacy structure and people really used it for privacy things and to avoid hacking and spamming. Facebook is really different from other social networking site indeed. And yet more to comes.

  • http://www.ConvoSpark.com Derek

    No, facebook is far better than other social networking sites in term of privacy!!!!!!!!

  • http://weber-genesis-series.info vazzir

    Well, i guess it’s up to the user if they want to make their profile in private or open to the whole community. Just like me i choose to give access to my friends only and for the other i’m invisible. That makes facebook differ from other social site you have the options of what you want it to be. Aside from the fact that you can shout out your daily mood..:)

  • http://Facebookis not

    Right is more precious than peace.

  • http://triadmom.com/rhys/ the stone’s names

    face book is great but people will always be concerned about privacy to an extent

  • http://triadmom.com/rhys/ the stone’s names

    a brilliant way to keep in touch with friends but there are some things you just don’t want to share with the general populatioin

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/01/12/facebook-ceo-people-dont-really-want-privacy-nowadays-anyway/ haneef

    facebook is an revolution …….

  • http://www.flattopbox.com/ berkshire graphic design

    I think facebook provides more privacy than other social networking sites. nowadays people dont mind about their privacy in facebbok , orkut etc.

  • http://www.flattopbox.com/ berkshire graphic design


  • http://www.instantventrilo.com/ vent

    It is very much true that nowadays people are not much bothered about privacy. They use to share each and everything.Facebook is a best example for that. I too approve facebook CEO’s words.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.

See More

Collapse bottom bar