Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices:
Given the sheer volume of Facebook users since it’s creation, which increase by the day, naturally some concerns have been raised in relation to privacy. How much of what we post on Facebook is protected, how secure is the information we are disclosing.
It seems Zuckerberg has a particular view on privacy, one which a large portion of facebook users do not share. In early 2010 he stated that privacy was no longer a ‘social norm’ and had merely evolved over time. “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.” This caused much controversy amongst Facebook users, whose concern for the privacy of the information they make available is entirely legitimate. However, what Zuckerberg does stress, evident in this video, is that the power to share as much or as little as you like on Facebook lies entirely with the user.
‘When people have control over what they share, they are comfortable sharing more’. Zuckerberg has enabled simple, straight-forward controls in privacy settings, where you can basically control every single aspect of your Facebook profile and who can view it. In this sense, the user can feel entirely in control and thus may be more inclined to share certain aspects of their profile. What some users seem to have misinterpreted is the real meaning of privacy within the online community. In our society, nothing that you publish on the internet is truly private. In regards to Facebook, privacy is not a complete lack of available information. The entire point of Facebook is to share yourself with others, however you can decide who you would like to share with, and what you will share. I think this is what Zuckerberg is trying to say in his discussions of privacy; while his statements may have come across as inconsiderate or blunt, in the end he created Facebook as a means of communication. He has provided more than enough privacy settings for users to feel safe, and is merely trying to promote connection. ‘When people share more, the world becomes more open and connected’.
Zuckerberg’s assertion that ‘in a more open world, many of the biggest problems we face together will be easier to solve’ does have merit. The sharing of information allows more opportunities for solutions, and the greater volume of information the more varied and thorough responses to issues. Whilst this may be true, there are of course negative aspects to the influx of information available on the internet. Wikileaks is an example of this; giving the public access to classified government documentation is representative not only of the boundless potential of sharing via the internet but also of the empowerment of the everyday citizen. However, it also distorts the long-established divide between the public and the government, compromising national security and diplomacy. Founder Julian Assange asserts that ‘No one has come to harm as a result of WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of classified documents’. Perhaps parallels can be drawn between Assange and Zuckerberg?
The aim of this video is to placate Facebook users, to thoroughly inform them, and thus reassure them of the competency of the Facebook developers. Everything about the video is simplified; the background is one, neutral colour, and Zuckerberg is the only person in the frame. He speaks clearly and concisely, and there is certainly no confusion regarding the changes being discussed. Given the sensitive nature of online privacy, this video is an intelligent way to engage with users and maintain equilibrium between producer and consumer.