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Facebook CEO admits mistakes, promises simpler privacy controls

May 24, 2010 | 11:31 am

The world’s most popular social networking site will roll out new settings to make it simpler and easier for users to control their personal information, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Monday.

Zuck Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook “missed the mark” with features that drew scrutiny from lawmakers, regulators and privacy watchdogs. Details of the new settings were revealed in an opinion piece in the Washington Post. Washington Post Chairman Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook's board of directors.

Zuckerberg did not say when the new settings would be in place, just that Facebook is “working hard to make these changes available as soon as possible.” One of the settings will make it easy to turn off all third-party services, he wrote.

"Facebook has been growing quickly. It has become a community of more than 400 million people in just a few years. It's a challenge to keep that many people satisfied over time, so we move quickly to serve that community with new ways to connect with the social Web and each other," Zuckerberg wrote. "Sometimes we move too fast -- and after listening to recent concerns, we're responding."

Technology blogger Robert Scoble also posted with permission an e-mail exchange with Zuckerberg in which the Facebook CEO acknowledged: “We’ve made a bunch of mistakes.”

Whether that admission will appease a small but vocal group of disgruntled Facebook users who have pledged to quit the social network remains to be seen. The publicity stunt has not gotten much traction. Fewer than 15,000 users have committed to deleting their Facebook account on May 31 at QuitFacebookDay.

Some say that threatening to quit or boycott Facebook is futile. But helping family and friends understand their privacy settings and challenging Facebook to adhere to a higher standard could make a difference.

Posted Danah Boyd: “Facebook has embedded itself pretty deeply into the ecosystem, into the hearts and minds of average people. They love the technology, but they’re not necessarily prepared for where the company is taking them. And while I’m all in favor of giving users the choice to embrace the opportunities and potential of being highly visible, of being a part of a transparent society, I’m not OK with throwing them off the boat just to see if they can swim.”

 -- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Mark Zuckerberg. Credit: Peter Klaunzer / Associated Press 

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