Zuckerberg’s right: Young people don’t care (as much) about privacy
“People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”
-Mark Zuckerberg via Mike Arrington interrogates Mark Zuckerberg.
(When it comes to “sharing more openly,” Zuckerberg personally has a mixed record. He accidentally exposed his photos and events when Facebook recently changed its privacy settings. I questioned him last month through a Facebook spokesperson and via a Facebook message about that mistake, and he has not responded.)
Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb is skeptical of Zuckerberg’s claims:
This is a radical change from the way that Zuckerberg pounded on the importance of user privacy for years. That your information would only be visible to the people you accept as friends was fundamental to the DNA of the social network that hundreds of millions of people have joined over these past few years. Privacy control, he told me less than 2 years ago, is “the vector around which Facebook operates.”
I don’t buy Zuckerberg’s argument that Facebook is now only reflecting the changes that society is undergoing. I think Facebook itself is a major agent of social change and by acting otherwise Zuckerberg is being arrogant and condescending….
This major reversal, backed-up by superficial explanations, makes me wonder if Facebook’s changing philosophies about privacy are just convenient stories to tell while the company shifts its strategy to exert control over the future of the web.
But Zuckerberg is actually right about social norms changing. A recent Pew survey on “the comparative opinions of Millennials (18 to 29 age group) vs. older age groups” supports his claim.
Hat tip to David DiSalvo on the survey. He writes about the generational breakdown at Brainspin:
When asked about “More surveillance and security,” the Millennials and Xers say “bring it on!” You want to pat me down, X-ray me, go through my bags and videotape me? No worries, we’re on board to the tune of 66 and 61%. Boomers, those traditional stalwart defenders of privacy, were a bit more skeptical on this one (52%) but only a hair more skeptical than their elders (54%).
Kirkpatrick suggests that Facebook itself might be a major agent of this change. And perhaps it is. But people overall seem relatively happy about Facebook & co.:
The public is ambivalent when it comes to evaluating social networking sites such as Facebook. About a third (35%) call them a change for the better, 21% say they have been a change for the worse, while 31% say social networking sites have not made much of a difference and 12% are unsure. In fact, even among young people, fewer than half (45%) say social networking sites have been a change for the better.
Thirteen percent of Millennials responded that MyFaceFriendster have been a change for the worse. That may be the case for the ones who use the sites solely for Zombie Wars.