In the midst of the privacy uproar over the past month, Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the public and media have misconstrued his and the company’s mission in a number of ways. He spoke today at the company’s Palo Alto headquarters where he launched a set of consolidated privacy controls and gave users the ability to turn off third-party applications entirely.
Here’s his take (feel free to judge for yourself):
1) “There is this big misperception that we’re making these changes because of advertisers.
Anyone who knows me knows that’s crazy. We need to build a great organization and a great company.
We didn’t talk about revenue at all when we had these conversations to make these changes. There was this really pivotal moment when I was 22 when Yahoo and all these companies were trying to buy Facebook. When you’re 22 and have an opportunity to sell something for that much money, you reach this point where you’re not making a decision to maximize money. Any amount of money would not be worth the last few years we’ve spent building this company.
There is also this idea going around that if people share information openly that we can use it better for ad targeting. But advertisers don’t get any information from the system. We don’t give your information to them. We target all the ads ourselves. And it doesn’t matter who you’re sharing with, whether it’s your friends or the public. It doesn’t affect the ads at all.”
2) Zuckerberg said opening data up to third-party developers threatened the company’s unique ability to personally target advertising.
“There is this concept of data portability that we’re trying to enable. We believe that people own their information and not only should they have control over it, but they should be able to take it to other services. Once they bring it to another service, that service can use that data to compete with us and target ads. By making these platforms interoperable, we’re actually enabling other companies to compete with us.”
3) He said Facebook had more public default settings because the company thought it was the best way to balance helping users share more information and helping their friends find them on the site.
“Our incentive is to give people exactly the controls they want so they can share the most information possible.
When you share information openly, you get feedback, and that’s an enjoyable experience. But our incentives are the opposite of trying to making everything totally public. The only reasons we recommend [more public] settings is because we think they’re the best balance for sharing the most possible and helping other people find you. [He added that when new users join, they get a notification before they publish their first status update that it’s viewable by everyone. I created a fake account yesterday to test this and it worked.]
We really do believe in privacy and we believe in giving people control. When you have almost 500 million people using your service, if only a few percent of them are upset, that could be a larger number of people than the state of New York.”