BerandaComputers and TechnologyZuckerberg Becomes Poster Child for Facebook's New Privacy Settings (2009)

Zuckerberg Becomes Poster Child for Facebook’s New Privacy Settings (2009)


Facebook is pushing users to stop being so private with their information, and from the looks of it, founder Mark Zuckerberg is leading the charge by sharing photos of himself at parties and with his girlfriend.

Facebook execs have in the past largely kept their profiles locked down, even as 80 percent of Facebook users stick with the default privacy settings that have long made all pictures public. But now Facebook wants to push users into a brave new Twitter-like world with changes to its privacy settings rolling out this week. The more public profiles are intended to help Facebook outstrip Google as the net’s top information source and, of course, bring in more ad revenue.

In a bit of very interesting timing, Zuckerberg’s photos have been made public to the entire internet, mostly through a post from gossip blog Gawker, after Kashmir Hill at True/Slant discovered and reported that Zuckerberg was sharing photos with a wide circle — friends of friends — and his event calendar with everyone.

His profile is now on über-public settings. I can see his wall, his photo albums, and his events calendar. Zuckerberg recently became a fan of Taylor Swift, uploaded graphic photos of “The Great Goat Roast of 2009” three months ago, and plans to attend the Facebook holiday party on Friday night. I can even tell you where it’s going to be held.

The photos include shots of Zuckerberg letting loose in Lake Tahoe, California, and sharing sweet moments with his girlfriend. Hill could see them because she has a Facebook friend in common with Zuckerberg.

Bloggers are finding some schadenfreude in the photos, which came to light less than 50 hours after Facebook decided to make some information — including a user’s name, profile picture, friend’s list and current city — public for all its 350 million users. Facebook’s new default settings also push users to share things like status updates with the entire internet Twitter-style, though users can decide on a per-photo or comment basis how widely it will be published.

Privacy groups and not an insignificant number of Facebook users are none-too pleased by the simplified privacy choices. By Friday afternoon PST, users have left more than 2,500 comments, nearly all negative, on Facebook’s governance blog about the change .

Facebook did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment about whether Zuckerberg’s changes to his privacy settings were deliberate, leadership-by-example-style actions. But in a status update on his profile (pictured above), Zuckerberg says he sets most of his content open and “didn’t see a need to limit visibility of pics with my friends, family or my teddy bear :)”

The other possibility, which Zuckerberg seems to be dismissing, is that the more public photos and completely visible events calendar were accidental changes caused by the new settings. That would be none-too-flattering for Facebook, given it’s defending the changes on the grounds that half of its users who have seen the new settings are actually making real and informed privacy choices.

Either way, you’re not (secretly) in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Update: Friday 3:50 PM PST – The post was updated to include information on the number of users vocally unhappy with the changes.

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