Tech Bloggers Frown at Facebook Founder's Privacy Column

The beleaguered chief gets more beleaguered

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Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg's defense in the Washington Post against allegations of privacy abuse have left many of the Web's more suspicious tech blogger unconvinced. Why?

  • 'Too Little, Too Late'  Ars Technica's Jacqui Cheng asks, "is it too little, too late? For longtime Facebook users, it's disappointing that it has taken this long for the company to make serious changes. And, given the company's recent track record, there's some chance that the changes won't be enough to appease critics."
  • We'll Believe It When We See It  Yahoo's Ben Patterson sighs, "Well, as I'm sure Zuckerberg understands, people tend be believe actions more than words, and a revamped set of simple, easy-to-use privacy controls — including, say, the option to start from scratch and opt in to sharing options rather than having to opt out — would be a step in the right direction. But rebuilding trust with Facebook's users will be a long, slow process, and the fewer privacy missteps between now and then, the better."
  • Falls Short of Congressional Mandate  BetaNews' Scott Fulton writes, "earlier this month, Rep. Rick Boucher (D - Va.) introduced legislation that would mandate that any act of personal information sharing between Web sites be expressly indicated to the user at the time it happens, with the user being given the option to stop it. Zuckerberg's solution -- at least, to the extent he discussed it in the Post -- would fall short of that mandate, opting instead to give users an extra option to turn all third-party sharing off. Conceivably, that option may be presented to all users upon logging into Facebook."
  • 'Will Not Satisfy Users at All'  The Guardian's Charles Arthur says Zuckerberg "stopped short of offering users the choice of opting in to having all their information spread throughout the social network and the internet – which may mean that the new settings will not satisfy users after all."
  • Column Missed the Point  ReadWriteWeb's Sarah Perez fumes, "What wasn't addressed [in the column] was why the need for clearer, easier-to-use privacy settings became such an urgent matter in the first place. And that is at the core of Facebook's steamroller approach to forcing people into public sharing, a corporate philosophy that seems less about impact to its bottom line and more about fulfilling Zuckerberg's personal vision for a more social Web"
  • 'Non-Apology'  MediaMemo's Peter Kafka scoffs, "Zuckerberg’s 528-word memo might seem contrite, but only if you skim quickly. Read closely and you’ll see that it’s a classic nonapology–he’s sorry that Facebook 'move[d] too fast.' That’s the kind of thing you say in a job interview if someone’s lazy enough to ask you to describe your biggest weakness–'Sometimes I try too hard.'"
  • Changes Nothing  Tech Crunch's Jason Kincaid predicts, "expect them to try to push the envelope again in, oh, about six months. Hopefully users will be better educated about their privacy and how to control it when that time comes."
  • Facebook Will Continue Eroding Privacy  Fast Company's Kit Eaton writes, "will Facebook continue to erode the boundaries between your personal info on the site and the public data it shares with the Web and its advertising partners? Almost certainly. Will there continue to be embarrassing leaks and security loopholes? Yes, of course. Zuckerberg's letter addresses none of this--merely closing by promising Facebook is concerned about your privacy, won't share your data with anyone, and will 'keep listening' to its users."
  • Facebook Being Too Reactive  ThreatPost's Dennis Fisher explains, "One of the more trite and oft-repeated maxims in the software industry goes something like this: We're not focusing on security because our customers aren't asking for it. They want features and functionality. When they ask for security, then we'll worry about it. Not only is this philosophy doomed to failure, it's now being repeated in the realm of privacy, with potentially disastrous effects. ... in order for real change to occur, companies are going to have to take this problem seriously and not treat it like an afterthought, the way that security once was treated by software companies."
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