Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his company are suddenly facing a big new round of scrutiny and criticism about their cavalier attitude toward user privacy.
An early instant messenger exchange Mark had with a college friend won’t help put these concerns to rest.
According to SAI sources, the following exchange is between a 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg and a friend shortly after Mark launched The Facebook in his dorm room:
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don’t know why.
Zuck: They “trust me”
Zuck: Dumb fucks.
Could Mark have been completely joking? Sure. But the exchange does reveal that Facebook’s aggressive attitude toward privacy may have begun early on.
And this does appear to reflect Mark’s own views of privacy, which seem to be that people shouldn’t care about it as much as they do — an attitude that very much reflects the attitude of his generation.
After all, here’s what early Facebook engineering boss, Harvard alum, and Zuckerberg confidant Charlie Cheever said in David Kirkpatrick’s brilliantly-reported upcoming book The Facebook Effect.
“I feel Mark doesn’t believe in privacy that much, or at least believes in privacy as a stepping stone. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong.”
Again in Kirkpatrick’s book, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg puts it this way:
“Mark really does believe very much in transparency and the vision of an open society and open world, and so he wants to push people that way. I think he also understands that the way to get there is to give people granular control and comfort. He hopes you’ll get more open, and he’s kind of happy to help you get there. So for him, it’s more of a means to an end. For me, I’m not as sure.”
Facebook declined to comment about Mark’s attitude toward privacy.