Commentary

Zuckerberg's Op-Ed 'Misses The Mark' On Privacy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg still doesn't seem to realize why the company's recent changes to its privacy policy have made people so irate.

"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," he says in an op-ed in today's Washington Post. "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."

Yes, Facebook did indeed miss the mark. But not because its controls were too granular. Facebook's biggest  missteps were to launch programs that violated users' expectations of privacy.

The most serious of the privacy blunders was probably "instant personalization," which automatically shares users' names, photos, friends, and other data with outside companies. The only way to avoid that is by affirmatively opting out. What's more, even if users think they've opted out, their data can still be shared by friends. To prevent that, users must individually block Microsoft Docs, Yelp and Pandora from obtaining data.

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But that's just one of several privacy-unfriendly decisions made by Facebook since December. At that time, Facebook changed its default settings to "share-everything-with-everyone." Several months later, the company additionally said it would make information about matters like education and work history public; the only way people could opt out was to remove the information from their profiles.

Facebook has to revisit all of those decisions in order to adequately address people's concerns.

Unfortunately, Zuckerberg doesn't appear to be ready to do so. His piece in today's newspaper promises only "an easy way to turn off all third party services."

1 comment about "Zuckerberg's Op-Ed 'Misses The Mark' On Privacy".
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  1. Theresa m. Moore from Antellus, May 25, 2010 at 1:24 p.m.

    Gads, it's so easy even a caveman can do it. If you don't want the information shared, DON'T PUT IT UP THERE.

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