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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Privacy is overrated at Facebook

Facebook continues its march towards becoming one of the largest repositories of personal information on the planet. The huge user base of the social networking site and the amount of time that many users spend on the site is enough to make marketers salivate.

The problem for the users of Facebook around the world is that this march towards profits and sharing the huge amounts of personal information is eroding the privacy that users once had on the social network. In the early days of Facebook, even the people you were friends with were not shown to those who you didn’t approve.

Today much of the information that was stashed away behind security in the early days is out in the open for anyone to peruse. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reckons that people online today just don’t have the same expectations of privacy online anymore. There are many who disagree with that notion, including a few Senators who are in a potential position to force Facebook to change its data sharing ways with new legislation.

Wired reports that new information has surfaced that claims Zuckerberg just doesn't care about the privacy of Facebook users. The revelation came in the form of a Tweet between the New York Times tech blogger Nick Bilton and an unnamed Facebook employee.

The Tweet read, "Off record chat w/ Facebook employee. Me: How does Zuck feel about privacy? Response: [laughter] He doesn’t believe in it."

Some of the things that Zuckerberg has said and moves that Facebook has made certainly support the claim that Facebook doesn't care much for privacy. The company is on a march towards monetizing the huge amount of traffic it generates and one of the things that has to fall by the wayside to make money is some of the privacy of users. 

Wired reports that one of the ways Facebook user information that is shared with third-party advertisers is being used is to target ads specifically at the user. For instance, when a user goes to the Microsoft site -- which is one of the third-parties that Facebook shares information with -- the user will see ads specifically tailored to software and services they are interested in.

Some new Facebook features are also clearly ways for the social network to learn more about the product likes and dislikes of users. One such feature is the "Like" button that lets sites put a Facebook button on product and service pages that users can click. A click would send the information to Facebook helping to link the user to things that they like and dislike. It’s unclear what the benefit of clicking a like button would be to the user, other than publishing the like to what Facebook calls the "Open Graph."

Facebook is opening a can of worms that marketers and other social networks are sure to follow closely. The introduction of legislation to stop information sharing with third-party sites without the express permission of users of social networks like Facebook may be the only way to turn the tide in the battle against making money and privacy online.

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Report: To Facebook CEO
By MrBlastman on 4/29/2010 11:01:33 AM , Rating: 5
I don't care about Facebook. That is all.
(I'm probably the only one in my group of friends who doesn't either, sadly.)

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By itlnstln on 4/29/2010 11:10:37 AM , Rating: 5
To a certain extent, isn't the whole point of Facebook to be a certain level of non-privacy? I know that there are some aspects of a users account that probably need to stay between Facebook (the company) and the user, but really, what do you want from a site where the whole point is to expose yourself to the world? That's why I'm simply not on it.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By Anoxanmore on 4/29/2010 11:13:55 AM , Rating: 3
When it was for universities, it worked out quite well. It was also nice to keep in touch with some of my old friends from highschool that were in college and universities half a continent away if not more. (those that were doing things with their lives anyway).

Sadly, it has become a kind of circus. Then again, I suppose it wasn't making much money being school related only.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By HotFoot on 4/29/2010 11:54:18 AM , Rating: 4
I just use facebook as a way to organise "loose ties", for those people in my life with whom I'm not in regular contact. For me it's basically a nice address book where I can look someone up. Generally the only reason I ever log on is because another person has found me and is requesting to add me as a friend.

But I don't really put up any information about myself other than my name and a picture so people can recognise me. If someone wants to know what I'm up to and what I'm thinking about, they can email, call or best yet invite me to coffee.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By Anoxanmore on 4/29/2010 11:56:23 AM , Rating: 5
You never responded to my request for coffee, JERK :P

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By amanojaku on 4/29/2010 12:45:42 PM , Rating: 3
“So… we’re not friends?”

“Dude, f— Facebook, seriously.”

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By Solandri on 4/29/2010 4:23:54 PM , Rating: 5
I just use facebook as a way to organise "loose ties", for those people in my life with whom I'm not in regular contact. For me it's basically a nice address book where I can look someone up.

That's just it. Facebook fills a role as gatekeeper in the social fabric of the Web. Say you put some pictures of a family picnic on a website. For whatever reason, you only want family members to view the pictures. So you require each family member to make an account with a password on your website, and once you've approved them they can view your pictures.

Now say your cousin also took some pictures of the event and wants to put his pictures on the web. He sets up a website, and for whatever reason he too decides that only family members should be allowed to view the pictures.

He could do what you did, and require everyone to make an account and password, and approve them. Now imagine this with 100 people who are your friends/family. It's totally impractically to set up an account and password on all 100 of their websites.

But they don't have to do that. You've already gone to the trouble of approving these people and giving them usernames and passwords when you made your website. Just set up an https database lookup where other people's websites can verify the username and password to give people access to their websites. Everyone only needs to make one username and password, only one database needs to store that information, and if people forget their password or wish to change it, they only have to do it in one place.

That is what Facebook is providing - a central database for verification of another person's identity. The social content sharing is secondary, and as in my example above it could actually happen on different websites. Facebook just does it because it encourages more people to use its database.

And therein lies the problem. The whole point of using a central database for identity verification is to maintain privacy. You want only certain people visiting your site and knowing what you post on it. Likewise, when you visit a friend's or family member's site you're authorized to view, the very fact that it's available only to authorized persons means you wish to do so privately without other people snooping at what you're viewing. If Facebook does not respect its users' privacy, it defeats the whole purpose of using Facebook as a central ID database.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By B3an on 4/30/2010 8:41:02 PM , Rating: 2
He could do what you did, and require everyone to make an account and password, and approve them. Now imagine this with 100 people who are your friends/family. It's totally impractically to set up an account and password on all 100 of their websites.

....But if you wanted to do this all you need is one password for all family members. Dont even need a username. You could also have a upload feature on the password protected page so only family members can upload images.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By Ard on 4/29/2010 12:04:03 PM , Rating: 5
You're not alone, my friend. I don't use any of the social media garbage. I have a Facebook page only to the extent that my wife likes advertise that we're married and to leave me messages that I'll rarely if ever see. Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter can all die as far as I'm concerned.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By zenmonkman on 4/29/2010 7:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
So you DO use Facebook through your proxy ... that is ... wife. That's the problem.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By xSauronx on 4/29/2010 7:36:58 PM , Rating: 1
i resisted it for a while...until i made some really good friends that live a ways away and that i dont see often. i dont generally just add anyone because i know their name, but more because its an easy way to casually keep in touch with some good, but busy friends.

that being said...i dont have anything really private on there. its me. its not censored, and its not full of dumb shit (oh, i have pictures of me doing dumb shit...theyre not on the internet)

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By AssBall on 4/30/10, Rating: 0
RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By Meinolf on 4/29/2010 1:15:42 PM , Rating: 4
I don't have a Facebook account because Facebook Sucks and my 62 year mom is on it.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By MonkeyPaw on 4/29/2010 6:27:42 PM , Rating: 2
...and my 62 year mom...

What an odd way to say you're 62 years old. ;)

Anyway, what I find amusing about social network sites is that people give away their personal info for FREE. Facebook is ingenious--it gets people to divulge their entire lives, and they do so willingly! The government or some evil mega corporation (other than Facebook) would never have that kind of success.

Very few really guard their privacy anymore. Instead they say "oh, what I say doesn't really matter," or "no one is spying on me," yet numerous people have now been fired, suspended, arrested, or expelled due to social networking activities. Maybe not everything should be put in print?

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By Ammohunt on 4/29/2010 3:00:44 PM , Rating: 3
Being in IT managing my companies Internet access i have to be familiar with it(we ban facebook as a time waster). I actually found it creepy to have people i haven't spoke to in 20 years add me as a friend. A lot can change in a person in 20 years! that or People i went to high school with that a vaguely remember and don't give a rats ass about.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By eddieroolz on 4/29/2010 5:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
I'm thinking of quitting Facebook thanks to this. I think this has been a real eye-opener for me.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By zenmonkman on 4/29/2010 7:20:20 PM , Rating: 3
Thank God someone is seeing the light ... give up the ghost ... it will only do harm in the long run.

RE: Report: To Facebook CEO
By JimboK29 on 4/29/2010 5:36:11 PM , Rating: 2
Threatcore is featuring this report as their main story.

By BigToque on 4/29/2010 11:22:15 AM , Rating: 3
"Facebook doesn't care about privacy"

Mark Zuckerberg is a 25 year old billionaire. This kid isn't old enough to appreciate what he has, nor does he likely have a real understanding of how to manage it.

He's likely got an army of lawyers and big corporate execs telling him how to generate the most cash, and what's being done now is obviously increasing his worth. Does he have ANY reason to care about privacy?

RE: ...
By zenmonkman on 4/29/2010 7:23:55 PM , Rating: 2
He is not hassled b/e he represents what we want to be ... a tech gazillionaire

RE: ...
By sjosephnyc on 5/4/2010 2:49:04 PM , Rating: 2

I made an entire facebook album to highlight just this--they don't give a crap about our privacy.

I'm getting ready to use this actual profile deletion link

You know...
By Yucker54 on 4/29/2010 12:53:09 PM , Rating: 2
I do not get facebook. But somehow I am sucked into it all the same. Being in my early 20's, my generation has an insatiable need to have our 15 minutes of fame. And with the wake of social networking, it has made it all too easy to do that.

However, as addicted to facebook I am, I keep my privacy settings very tight and have less than 50 friends (just those I care about/really want to re-connect with). Where as this girl I have been seeing lately has nearly 400 friends on facebook. There is no need for that many friends. Especially when you only talk to maybe 20, tops, a week.

RE: You know...
By jimhsu on 4/29/2010 1:33:47 PM , Rating: 2
I use my facebook account as Twitter with a longer character limit. That is about all.

RE: You know...
By JDHack42 on 4/29/2010 2:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
Facebook just satisfies our inner voyeur/exhibitionist. Why would we want anything private?

But really - other sites should take heed and not have security questions that are standard info on a FB profile.

RE: You know...
By zenmonkman on 4/29/10, Rating: 0
Keep Your Privacy
By FredEx on 4/29/2010 6:41:40 PM , Rating: 2
Easy way to keep your privacy...LIE. People may know my name on just one site, but that is it. I have some accounts that have made up names. Use throw away e-mail accounts. Make up the other stuff the sites ask for.

RE: Keep Your Privacy
By zenmonkman on 4/29/2010 7:25:13 PM , Rating: 4
Best advice yet ... Lie to the Liars!!!

By SublimeSimplicity on 4/29/2010 11:21:12 AM , Rating: 4
New York Times tech blogger Nick Bilton and an unnamed Facebook employee.

The Tweet read, " Off record chat w/ Facebook employee. Me: How does Zuck feel about privacy? Response: [laughter] He doesn’t believe in it."

I wonder what Zuck's opinion is on the privacy of "off the record" quotes give to reporters.

Targeted ads
By MrFord on 4/29/2010 12:44:29 PM , Rating: 2
Ok I may get flamed for that... and do understand that I'm all about privacy, and I think Facebook, as other sites, need to enforce current privacy settings, as opposed to rave about "Protect the privacy of our users", then turn around and sell all they can before getting caught.

On the other hand, especially with Google AdSense and the like, at least I am getting some ads that are relevant and that I can use. Even 5 years ago, you would get bombarded with random ads that I didn't even bothered to look.

Now, from time to time, I stumble on an ad for something that I've been looking for that I either couldn't find, or a equivalent that I didn't know existed. And yes, I even ended up buying said products a couple time.

And while I hate being flooded with ads, at least if it can be useful to me, and at the same time help finance a website, I think it's a great think. And to me, it's much more effective than any ads on TV or in a magazine, because it can be much more centered around my preferences.

Is it a little creepy that some database somewhere knows that I'm looking for a receiver or that I like FlightSim? Maybe, but that's not a new concept, by looking at my mailbox (the metal thing outside my house, not my e-mail). But if it can help me get a better deal or find a better suitable alternative to a product, I think it's a win-win.

And if I didn't want anybody to know that, I would certainly not post it on Facebook or tweet about it. It's like posting your address and phone number on Craigslist and then wonder why you keep receiving creepy calls and junk mail.

RE: Targeted ads
By jimhsu on 4/29/2010 1:37:00 PM , Rating: 2
There is a line, however, between obtrusive (or potentially embarrassing) and non-obtrusive:

1. Non-obtrusive - "Try this NEW X hair gel! 50% off!" (male, uses styling gel, often buys hair products on sale)

2. Obtrusive - "Gingko - proven to reduce your risk of Alzheimers" (DNA sequencing from 23andME reveals increased risk of Alzheimers in subpopulation)

It can be OK
By SixSpeedSamurai on 4/29/2010 3:30:22 PM , Rating: 2
I have caught up with some friends from college that we had lost track of each other as we spread around the country.

Sigh, and I'm addicted to stupid Mafia Wars......

RE: It can be OK
By Chernobyl68 on 4/29/2010 3:44:34 PM , Rating: 2
just quit mafia wars after they changed up the top mafia.

By themaster08 on 4/29/2010 3:46:56 PM , Rating: 2
Another corporate asshole out of touch with reality. What's new?

RE: CEO's.....
By zenmonkman on 4/29/2010 7:22:34 PM , Rating: 1
Jobs has been doing it for decades

By jonmcc33 on 4/29/2010 12:55:36 PM , Rating: 2
The revelation came in the form of a Tweet between the New York Times tech blogger Nick Bilton and an unnamed Facebook employee.

Prime example of it.

By eegake on 4/29/2010 9:43:48 PM , Rating: 2 a clear indication that one is a born sucker.

Makes me laugh
By piroroadkill on 4/30/2010 3:46:55 AM , Rating: 2
Because I never used facebook

Great New
By cannongoodman on 5/1/2010 8:24:12 AM , Rating: 2
I want to know in your honest opinion if Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of facebook, inc stole all the ideas for facebook when he was at harvard from some other classmates, and if he hadn't done this where or what he would be doing now instead of facebook as his career?

By edge929 on 5/6/2010 2:10:28 PM , Rating: 2
This shouldn't surprise anyone. Anyone stupid enough to have a Facebook account deserves to have their info splattered on the interweb. Same goes for any hey-look-at-how-popular-I-am website.

The CEO of Facebook isn't concerned with your privacy rights, he's running a business to, you know, make money.

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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