It looks like everyone is discovering just how far Facebook will allow itself to be pushed before it admits either it was wrong about something or it feels it’s backed far enough into a corner to talk. This time it was Mark Zuckerberg who wrote a response in The Washington Post that tells the world just where he and the company stand with regard to the great privacy gaffe of ’10.
It appears as if it takes a full court press from the press to overcome Facebook’s own standards by which 7,000 responses to a policy change must be heard before anything can be changed by Facebook in a more democratic fashion (do you remember that?). While I may have missed it I have not heard anything that talks about that rule but I think that the term “Facebook rules” is an oxymoron anyway unless Zuckerberg has a T-shirt that says it along with his pleasant “I’m CEO, Bitch!” business card offering.
So what did he say in the Washington Post? Here’s a few morsels for your Monday morning.
The biggest message we have heard recently is that people want easier control over their information. Simply put, many of you thought our controls were too complex. Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted. We just missed the mark.
We have also heard that some people don’t understand how their personal information is used and worry that it is shared in ways they don’t want. I’d like to clear that up now. Many people choose to make some of their information visible to everyone so people they know can find them on Facebook. We already offer controls to limit the visibility of that information and we intend to make them even stronger.
Here are the principles under which Facebook operates:
-You have control over how your information is shared.
-We do not share your personal information with people or services you don’t want.
-We do not give advertisers access to your personal information.
-We do not and never will sell any of your information to anyone.
-We will always keep Facebook a free service for everyone.
We will keep building, we will keep listening and we will continue to have a dialogue with everyone who cares enough about Facebook to share their ideas.
All pretty standard fare in my opinion. Actually what else is he going to say? Do you think he would actually share what is really on his mind? It might be along the lines of if he can’t share as much information about enough of his ‘customers’ then his advertising becomes less effective and he will make less money. Not the kind of stuff you tell people you are trying to placate.
Of course, this is all part of a carefully crafted multi-pronged PR approach that includes an e-mail to Robert Scoble. Zuckerberg and Facebook will use every tactic and trick in the book to make him look as concerned and compassionate as possible including his ‘allowing’ Scoble to print his ‘private’ e-mail to him. A bit over the top but what else should we expect now, right? Here is the Scoble e-mail from the Scobleizer blog:
We’ve been listening to all the feedback and have been trying to distill it down to the key things we need to improve. I’d like to show an improved product rather than just talk about things we might do.
We’re going to be ready to start talking about some of the new things we’ve built this week. I want to make sure we get this stuff right this time.
I know we’ve made a bunch of mistakes, but my hope at the end of this is that the service ends up in a better place and that people understand that our intentions are in the right place and we respond to the feedback from the people we serve.
I hope we’ll get a chance to catch up in person sometime this week. Let me know if you have any thoughts for me before then.
So you can make of this what you want. Facebook knows that with the increased scrutiny from everyone from its users to the government it has to do something to look proactive but not too apologetic. You don’t for one minute truly believe that Facebook really is sorry for what they supposedly did, do you? There are likely just very upset that they have found their limits and probably tied their hands for real expansion in the near future because of the increased short-term scrutiny this will keep them under. I say short-term because one thing I know they are betting on: People have short memories and there will be larger social changes that will probably allow them to push the limits again sooner or later.
So do you think your privacy now really matters to Facebook or not? Let’s hear it.