Remember when everybody hated Facebook because it invaded their privacy, kept them from getting their dream job and embarrassed them in front of their friends and family? Those days are over, apparently. At least, that's what Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan wants you to think.
After privacy advocates flipped out over some employers asking would-be employees for their Facebook passwords, Egan wrote a Facebook Note defending "the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends." Egan writes:
We don't think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don't think it's right the thing to do. But it also may cause problems for the employers that they are not anticipating. For example, if an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don't hire that person.
These are all good points! Egan goes on to detail how Facebook users have a right to privacy and a right to security. In her words, Facebook users have "a right to keep their password to themselves, and [Facebook] will do [its] best to protect that right." Egan does not say, "You have a right to privacy," but in signing the note as Chief Privacy Officer and posting it to Facebook's Privacy page, she and her company are sending a pretty strong message that Facebook is in the business of protecting your privacy.
Wait a second. What happened to Mark "Privacy Is No Longer a 'Social Norm'" Zuckerberg? Where'd that guy go? Well, in the past year Zuckerberg's not only been to Vietnam, South America and China, he's been to his company's boardroom, where the bean counters are preparing for an initial public offering, perhaps one of the largest in this country's history. Whether of his own volition or at the behest of his fellow Facebook board members, Zuckerberg has changed his tune since the 2010 interview with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. "A lot of companies would be trapped by the conventions and their legacies of what they've built, doing a privacy change -- doing a privacy change for 350 million users is not the kind of thing that a lot of companies would do," Zuckerberg said then. "But we viewed that as a really important thing, to always keep a beginner's mind and what would we do if we were starting the company now and we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it."