Thursday, May 27, 2010

Facebook executive responds to users’ privacy concerns

Facebook executive responds to users’ privacy concerns

Elliot Schrage, vice president for public policy at Facebook, has responded to 
a series of questions about the site's privacy settings assuring users that the social network will ‘do


By Emma Barnett, Technology and Digital Media Correspondent
Published: 1:28PM BST 12 May 2010

The New York
Times asked its readers to submit questions to the former Google executive about Facebook’s approach to privacy, which has become an increasing bugbear for the company, since introducing a series of changes in a bid to make the network more ‘open’.

Schrage said that he found the exercise to be ‘painful but productive’. He explained that a “painful element comes from professional frustration. It’s clear that despite our efforts, we are not doing a good enough job communicating the changes that we’re making. Even worse, our extensive efforts to provide users greater control over what and how they share appear to be too confusing for some of our more than 400 million users. That’s not acceptable or sustainable. But it’s certainly fixable. You’re pointing out things we need to fix”.

When asked by one user why 
Facebook kept making changes to its security settings and whether Facebook customers are really “pounding on your door screaming that they want more categories of their personal data to be available to marketers every few months”, Schrage replied: “Clearly, we need to rethink the tempo of change and how we communicate it. Trust me. We’ll do better.”

Another reader expressed their frustration at how much information strangers on 
Facebook can now see – such as a user’s profile picture and interests. Schrage defended the decision to make more categories de-facto public knowledge, saying: “We’ve found that a few fields of information need to be shared to facilitate the kind of experience people come to Facebook to have. That’s why we require the following fields to be public: name, profile photo (if people choose to have one), gender, connections (again, if people choose to make them), and user ID number