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Zuckerberg Responds to Facebook Privacy Concerns (The First Draft)

In a Washington Post op-ed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg promises to right Facebook’s privacy wrongs. We obtained an early draft of that essay that tells a slightly different story.

By (@tynanwrites)

May 24, 2010

The story you're about to read is not (entirely) true. It is, however, more accurate than most things on network television.

Finally, more than a month after a privacy shitstorm hit the Facebook fan, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly responded in a Washington Post opinion piece.

eSarcasm has obtained an early draft of Zuckerberg’s essay, which differs in significant ways from what was published in the Post. We now present it in the spirit of sharing and dialog that Facebook so richly epitomizes:

From Facebook, answering privacy concerns with vague promises

Six years ago, we built Facebook around a few simple ideas. We stole these ideas from some very smart people, so we know they’re good. Those ideas are that people want to share and stay connected with their friends and the people around them. And if they can use our service to hook up with that totally unattainable babe from high school who’s still quite do-able, that’s fine too.

If we give people control over what they share, they will want to share more. If we give them sheep, they will throw them. If we give them a mindless game where they pretend to be farmers or mobsters, they will play them all fucking day long. What we’ve learned from this is that people are really, really stupid. And those are still our core principles today. 

Facebook has been growing quickly. It has become a community of more than 400 million people in just a few years. Remove the spammers, scammers, and accounts that have been hijacked, and we’re still in the high six figures. It’s a challenge to keep that many people satisfied over time, so we move quickly to serve that community with new ways to connect with the social Web and each other. Sometimes we move too fast. Sometimes we git jiggy wid their data. (I may be a privileged white boy from Scarsdale but I know how to keep it real with my homies.)

After listening to recent concerns (following weeks of hiding under our beds wishing all the haters would just leave us alone), we’re responding. We’re responding via this editorial, in which I’ll make a lot of vague promises about making improvements without ever explaining what those improvements are. We believe this will work because, as I’ve already said, people are really, really stupid.

The challenge is how a network like ours can take all the information you just handed us for free (and frankly we’re still amazed you did that) and monetizing the shit out of it while pretending to care about our users’ privacy. These are issues we think about all the time.

The biggest message we’ve heard recently is that people want easier control over their information. Many of you thought our controls were too complex. Well, of course they were complex. What do you take us for — morons? (I did go to Harvard, even though I spend most of my 1.7 years there surfing porn.) Our intention was to make the whole process so friggin’ confusing you’d just give up and let us have our way with your data. By and large we have succeeded. But there’s still a few of you noisy cranks out there who want to make things simpler. So clearly we missed the mark.

We have heard the feedback. Oh God, have we heard the feedback. If I have to read another fucking essay by Danah Boyd about “privileged techno-elites” I may just kill myself. But we are responding. We are adding privacy controls that are much simpler to use. We will give you an easy way to turn off all third-party services. I will personally walk around our offices with my pants around my ankles wearing a “Spank me, Daddy” sign if that would just get you off our backs. You guys are killing the value of my stock options.

We’ve also heard some of you don’t understand how we abuse use and butter all over the InterWebs share your personal data (see “people, stupid,” above). So (sigh) once again I’ll bullet point the principles upon which Facebook operates.

* You have control over how your information is shared. Except for the information we insist on sharing no matter what. (Don’t like it? I hear Bebo is looking for members.)

* We do not share your personal information with people or services you don’t want. We will, however, assume you do want to share this personal information unless you tell us differently (see “privacy controls, friggin’ confusing” above).

* We do not give advertisers access to your personal information. Unless that information includes the names, ages, hometowns, and occupations of people who clicked on ads. But we fixed that problem, just nine months after we first heard about it. Really, we swear.

* We do not and never will sell any of your information to anyone. Why the fuck would we want to do that? It’s our only tangible asset.

* We will always keep Facebook a free service for everyone. Because, really, who would pay for it?

Facebook has evolved from a simple dorm room project that I ripped off from the two fools who hired me to program it (and then screwed over again in the settlement – am I good or what?) into a global social network that will eventually swallow the entire Internet. We will keep building, we will keep listening, and we will continue to have a dialog with everyone who cares enough about Facebook to share their ideas, though that dialog will consist mostly of me nodding as if I’m actually paying attention while secretly checking my Blackberry. Because I’m the CEO, bitch.

We’re convinced. How about you?

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