Comments made on Facebook CEO's claims about online privacy being 'overblown'

News by Dan Raywood

In an interview with the New Yorker, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that privacy is not a main concern and hit out at people who highlight any errors and make them a big deal.

In an interview with the New Yorker, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that privacy is not a main concern and hit out at people who highlight any errors and make them a big deal.

According to the report, Zuckerberg said that privacy is the ‘third-rail issue' online, as a lot of people who are worried about privacy ‘will take any minor misstep that we make and turn it into as big a deal as possible'.

He said: “We realise that people will probably criticise us for this for a long time, but we just believe that this is the right thing to do.”

A report on the interview in the Daily Telegraph claimed that Zuckerberg ‘suggested that concerns about online privacy on the social networking site are overblown', although that word was not used in the original article.

Commenting on Facebook privacy concerns being overblown, ESET senior research fellow, David Harley, said that as the business model is based on sharing his customer's information, this is a typical thing to say.

He said: “If Facebook is serious about accommodating differing levels of comfort in terms of privacy, that's a good thing, but the message I'm getting here is ‘you don't need privacy and our defaults reflect that, but you can change them if you really want to'.

“The problem there is with people who haven't realised yet that the ‘information wants to be free' philosophy actually leaves them exposed to a range of attacks, and who will therefore accept fairly lax defaults because ‘privacy concerns are overblown'. If people were more prone to think critically and sceptically, I'd be out of a job.”

Ed Rowley, senior product manager at M86 Security, said: “Zuckerberg is wrong to downplay the importance of privacy. Once your information is out there, there's very little you can do to remove it from the web. We need to encourage people to be absolutely scrupulous about protecting their personal information when using social networks.

“This is particularly the case for the ‘SatNav generation', the new college and school leavers who have grown up using Bebo and Facebook and who have a tendency to share far too much information online. Only by encouraging people to value their personal privacy can we engender a culture of privacy in the workplace.

“If an employee doesn't care about managing their own online information, what on earth are they going to do to your company's reputation? Privacy is a major issue.”

Richard Walters, CTO at user activity management software company Overtis, said: “We can never underestimate the importance of online privacy. This is not just a consumer issue. Once you start to be careless with your own information, it's a slippery slope towards being equally ambivalent with that of your employer.

“With the growth of social networking there has been a blurring of the lines between personal and work applications. We have to get the message across, particularly to younger employees, that privacy is paramount. If you are entrusted with company and customer information, you must do your utmost to safeguard it, particularly when you are online. Zuckerberg's continued assertions that privacy is some kind of ‘nice to have' do nothing to foster that culture of trust.”

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