The people have spoken. And Facebook has, supposedly, listened.
Wave after wave of furious critics and frustrated users crashed upon the shores of Mark Zuckerberg’s professional responsibility to safely manage the personal information of over 400,000,000 people. These waves came roaring up after the latest changes to his company’s website, Facebook. Few were pleased with the changes, which altered default settings to expose more of user’s information to the public, including third-party companies and search engine spiders. The CEO, who has what could be called a fetish for no-privacy policies, has attempted to retrace his steps back to where he went wrong—that is to say, he messed up and now he’s trying to save face.
But are the newly announced changes truly substantial?
To quote the 26-year-old from his new blog post outlining the changes, “When you have control over what you share, you want to share more.” First of all, what research is this grounded on? Most probably his own personal opinion and little else. The outrage he has caused was triggered by people demanding more control… so they could share less. So, even in the first paragraph of Mark’s speech, you observe that he still doesn’t understand his user’s needs like he claims.
He moves on to talk a lot about “simpler” privacy controls—not necessarily more strict ones. And with simplicity generally comes less control, the opposite effect he is attempting to convey. And in the end, this is just another change to Facebook that may alter people’s default settings. Mark and his team make significant changes to Facebook’s settings (and other aspects) so frequently, Facebook users are forced to remain vigilant and highly aware of what’s going on behind closed doors, or their personal information could suddenly be exposed, and there is seldom a public announcement on the homepage. This also creates a mass of confusion, in which many users frustratedly give up trying to retain control of every aspect of their profile. Managing your private information shouldn’t be a full-time job.
Mark’s post is relatively PR-edited, for it contains a lot of wishy-washy sweet-nothings that carry little to no meaning, while making it sound like Mark personally addressed the concerns of several million people. But he does make one slip—and by slip, I mean honest statement: “Each time we make a change … we make new mistakes.”
Leslie Harris, President of the Centre for Democracy and Technology, said, “more work still needs to be done,” but acknowledged that “these changes are the building blocks to giving people what they want and deserve.”
Mark ends the post with a video in which he recites some PR-scripted bullocks so stiffly and awkwardly, it’s cringe-worthy. The video is intended as a personal address, but his incapacity to smile or pronounce words casually make him look like an utter fool—I’ve never seen anyone talk about their birthday so robotically (“On a personal note,” he just turned 26 a few days ago). His final statement is that “We’ll be rolling out these changes to all of you over the next few weeks,” which proves the aforementioned point of confusion; instead of making all changes in one fell swoop, Mark will perplex users by spitting out changes nice and slow, “building block” by hollow building block.