Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be your “digital living room” where you can privately share your thoughts, messages, and photos of your kids that the company will use for advertising purposes. Which was a topic left out of his essay on his new “privacy-focused vision.”

I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform — because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing. But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.

Check It Out: That Ominous Figure in the Corner of Your Digital Living Room is Mark Zuckerberg

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  1. W. Abdullah Brooks, MD


    I hadn’t appreciated before that Zuckerberg was into stand-up comedy. Some of these lines are quite hilarious. Take for example this one-liner;

    ‘…frankly we don’t have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services’. Oh, you think?

    And how about this hoot?

    ‘…and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing’. Say what? ‘Open sharing’? Is that what you’re calling it now? Back in the day when CEO’s of corporate giants were oil barons, they just called it ‘naked exploitation’. Personally, I prefer the latter term. It has the advantage of capturing what it feels like on the receiving end.

    And then there’s this wordplay that leads you in one direction and ends on the unexpected,

    ‘But we’ve repeatedly shown the we can evolve to build the services that people really want…’ True. Kind of. People like ice cream. But not with Salmonella – infected toppings.

    ‘…including private messaging and stories’. Woah! See what I mean? Unexpected ending. See what he did there? Comedic genius at work.‘Private’ messaging? You mean private until it’s not, like if FB views it through their VPN. Hilarious, I tell you.

    I’m…intrigued that FB and Zuckerberg are seeking to regain user/public trust by promising privacy. Cultures worldwide embrace the theme of redemption; the Samurai who avenges the wrongful death of his lord and then commits Seppuku; Dickensian misers learning the true spirit of giving and celebratory generosity; the story arc of the original Star Wars trilogy that witnesses the repentance and return to the true Jedi light of its arch villain, Darth Vader. Yes, worldwide, we celebrate redemption.

    But…and it’s a big ‘but’, where credibility is nonexistent and human welfare is at stake, we need evidence. For starters, we need an articulated plan, in writing, and not vague aspirations in a blog post. Second, how about a system of oversight, you know, to make sure that FB does what FB says. Add to that a mechanism for appeal to a third party if/when the user feels…abused. And finally, how about some help from legislators with a thing they do with other industries, regulation?

    In the absence of these steps, FB’s story will be less Return of the Jedi and more Empire Strikes Back.

    And while I loathe to rain on the FB parade, the healthy, self-regulated industry replete with happy, well-served and safe customers is not a thing. Anywhere. Ever.

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