Facebook Effect: Zuckerberg Cares About Privacy — But More About Sharing

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg cares about privacy, the author of a new book about Facebook argues. However, the social net’s founder has much more regard for his own worldview, which he firmly believes is going in the direction of sharing more and more information about people’s lives. In an interview with Michael Arrington at Techcrunch’s Disrupt conference, Fortune columnist David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, and early Facebook backer Sean Parker, managing partner of the Founders Fund, the three debated the push and pull of Facebook’s privacy and information sharing methods. Both Parker and Kirkpatrick marshaled a vigorous defense of Zuckerberg the person and the executive.

Parker: “Earning the trust of Facebook’s users is a business priority for Mark. When he first started out, he was very skeptical of VCs, he was a mischief-making kid, but he did not have a mean streak. There are some people who didn’t like their place in the company that are are trying to paint him as malicious. He’s not.”

In a reference to the instant messages the 19-year-old Zuckerberg sent when he first launched Facebook, which featured mocking language about users as he touted his access to their personal info, Kirkpatrick dismissed it as talk of an amateurish kid. “In the days when he sent those texts at Harvard, Facebook was just a project. He is not as concerned as many other people are that users should be able to control what they want. He doesn’t believe that’s how the world works.”

Parker interjected again, arguing that Facebook is not a threat to privacy. “People control what they put on Facebook. They have control of how they define themselves.” Arrington pushed back, saying that people tend to want more clarity and control once they do post their personal info.

More than the privacy issue, audience members wanted to know about money. “After ads, virtual pig feed, how will money be made on Facebook? a questioner asked the panel. Parker said that the operating platform will be a third of its revenue for the next 12 months. Kirkpatrick added that he thinks the site will make over a $1 billion in revenue this year.

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