I recently golfed with a friend who works at a large corporation. When the topic of work came up, we swapped stories about our mutual loathing of Facebook.
I complained about its algorithm changes, which make it much more difficult to reach our audience. She complained about the mass amounts of personal data her company had purchased from Facebook to market to people more effectively.
“It’s overwhelming,” she said. “Too much information.”
It’s of course no secret anymore that Facebook sells user data to companies willing to buy it—despite Mark Zuckerberg’s assurances that Facebook would never do so. (Apparently, he had his fingers crossed during the below BBC interview.)
Now, one might be tempted to believe that Zuckerberg did not actually lie in the clip above. Perhaps he had true intentions initially, but was forced to rethink privacy matters once he realized how valuable the user data he possessed actually was. He has a fiduciary responsibility to his stockholders after all, no?
This sounds plausible—until one realizes that Zuckerberg knew from Facebook’s beginning how valuable user data was and had no scruples about sharing private user data with whomever he liked.
Evidence of this emerged in 2010, when Silicon Alley Insider revealed private instant messages from 2004 that showed a 19-year-old Zuckerberg bragging to a friend that he’d be happy to share “info about anyone at Harvard”—information he had collected from his newly launched social media platform. Below is a transcript and screen shot of the exchange, which was recently shared by The Guardian:
ZUCK: yea so if you ever need info about anyone at harvard
ZUCK: just ask
ZUCK: i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns
FRIEND: what!? how'd you manage that one?
ZUCK: people just submitted it
ZUCK: i don't know why
ZUCK: they "trust me"
ZUCK: dumb f[*]cks
Zuckerberg recently skated through congressional hearings. Lawmakers—who were at turns bumbling, sycophantic, and pompous—were hardly able to land a glove on the 33-year-old tech whiz.
But people should not be fooled. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t give a damn about your privacy when he gave that BBC interview in 2009, no more than he did in 2004 when he mocked people who trusted him. I’m willing to bet he still doesn’t care.
[Image Credit: Flickr-Maurizio Pesce | CC BY 2.0]
Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Times.