Saturday 21 April 2018

Zuckerberg says Facebook is getting 'privacy right on the whole'

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Getty Images
Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Getty Images

Emma Barnett

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, has said he believes the company has got its privacy settings right "on the whole".

Talking at D8, a technology conference in Los Angeles, Zuckerberg defended the social network’s privacy settings, which it overhauled last week, saying that because more than 50pc of the 500 million users had changed their pirvacy settings at one point – demonstates that “users understand the tools”.

“To me, that’s a signal [people changing their own privacy settings] that on the whole, we're getting it [privacy] right and giving people the control they want.”

Last week, the social network announced it would “drastically simplify” the controls that let users set how much of their personal information is visible to other users.

The move came in response to international criticism of the site’s increasingly complex systems for users to decide what aspects of their data are available online.

Zuckerberg also came under fire at D8 about an early instant messenger exchange he had with a college friend while he was still a student – in which he made quips about what information he could access on “anyone at Harvard”, having just started what would become Facebook in his dorm room.

In the exchange Zuckerberg boasts to his friend that he had over “4,000 emails, pictures, addresses” that he could access and use.

The publication of the exchange gave rise to further concerns that the company had a cavalier attitude to people’s privacy.

“When I was in college I did a lot of stupid things and I don’t want to make an excuse for that,” said the 26 year-old on stage at D8.

“Some of the things that people accuse me of are true, some of them aren’t. There are pranks. IMs. [Instant message]. I started building this when I was around 19 years old, and along the way, a lot of stuff changed. We went from building a service in a dorm room to running a service that 500 million people use.”

The spotlight is going to increasingly shine the Facebook’s founder personal life, with a new film about the company’s founding expected out later this year.

Zuckerberg said he would prefer no film to be made about him during his lifetime. The film, called The Social Network, is directed by David Fincher and was scripted by The West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin.

Zuckerberg refused to reveal when the company will go public, but confirmed that it would and he would remain chief executive.

He also talked about the need to innovate around search as Facebook fields nearly as many search queries a day as Google.

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