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Dec. 11 2009 - 3:55 pm | 579 views | 2 recommendations | 8 comments

Facebook CEO says he made his settings less private on purpose

Last night, I discovered that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had dramatically decreased the privacy settings for his Facebook profile. As a friend of a friend, I could suddenly see hundreds of his photos and status updates. Even those without a friend in common could suddenly see Zuckerberg’s About Me page and Events calendar. Want to crash the Facebook holiday party tonight and hang out with Zuck? Now you can get the info you need to do that.

I suggested that Zuck might have gotten caught by a glitch in Facebook’s new privacy settings that many privacy gurus have complained about.  The new privacy settings default to be uber-public, and users have to be proactive about keeping their settings private. Was Zuck caught up by this or did he decide he wanted to lead by example and be less private online?

In a status update today, he claims that the latter is the case:

Mark Zuckerberg: For those wondering, I set most of my content to be open so people could see it. I set some of my content to be more private, but I didn’t see a need to limit visibility of pics with my friends, family or my teddy bear :)

But why did Zuck suddenly decide to be less private than two months ago, when his settings were uber-private? You couldn’t even friend him before, and you certainly couldn’t see him shirtless..

The fact that Zuck drastically reduced his privacy settings makes me think the Facebook CEO did this accidentally, and now doesn’t want to change back for fear of the resulting PR disaster.

I asked Facebook spokesperson, Barry Schnitt about this and he said:

He went through the transition tool like other users, evaluated the recommendations, and ended up accepting them.

If this was intentional, it’s admirable that the CEO would lead by example. But why wasn’t he leading by example two months ago?

If this was accidental, it may make critics pause before accusing the company of purposefully trying to force people to be more public. If the Facebook folks had been rubbing their hands and laughing about how all their users were going to be tricked into making their profiles more accessible, their CEO probably would have been in on it, and would not have stumbled into less private settings himself.


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  1. collapse expand

    I tend to agree he got caught off- guard, last night I tried to see his pics off your link and got something like CANNOT DISPLAY THIS PAGE, call me goofy but I find all of this hilarious, keep running this down!

  2. collapse expand

    I’m wondering how many Facebook employees are cleaning out their desks right now.

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    About Me

    I am a writer, reporter, editor and blogger. I'm an editor at Above The Law, where I blog about lawyers, judges, law firms and the legal industry. Here at True/Slant, I write about our changing notions of privacy.

    If you have story ideas or tips, e-mail me at kashhill@trueslant.com. I've hung out in quite a few newsrooms over the last few years. Currently, I can be found in Breaking Media's Nolita office. In the past, I've been found in midtown Manhattan at The Week Magazine, in Hong Kong at the International Herald Tribune, and in D.C. at the National Press Foundation and the Washington Examiner.

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