In case you didn’t read him quoted in some 1,700 newspapers last week, NBC’s Press:Here has an interview with Chris Kelly, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer this week. The show, which focuses on technology, airs in the Bay Area on Sunday mornings after Meet the Press, and the young show has already been beating Meet the Press in the ratings. You can also watch a clip on the jump or the entire episode online here right now. (I was one of the guest reporters on the show this week.)
But this isn’t the first or last time users will be in an uproar over Facebook, despite all of Facebook’s best efforts. Why? There’s never been a Web site—or media property for that matter—that people trusted with so much personal, emotional and intimate information, whether it’s your cell phone number or a video of your child taking his first steps. And with Facebook’s business model still uncertain, that trust makes us legitimately nervous. You think all the search data Google has been collecting on us for all these years is scary? Things you do and upload to Facebook are far, far more personal. For the conspiracy theorists out there, Facebook is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.
I asked Kelly—on this, the third major user uproar the company has faced on privacy that caught it completely by surprise—if the issue was a blind spot for the company or if Facebook was doing something so new in organizing the data of human relationships that it was bound to take all the arrows as these issues of privacy continually emerge. Kelly essentially said its the latter; I think it’s a mixture of both, although Facebook’s privacy sensitivities have clearly come a long way since the News Feed and Beacon debacle days. Give them credit: Each time they learn how to handle the crisis better, and this time they sprung into action quickly and decisively.
Either way, this is not the first or last time a user revolt will spark up around privacy and the site. And that’s one reason Facebook is inviting users to help them craft the language this time around. You can’t blame yourself for violating your rights, right? But as Elizabeth Corcoran of Forbes pointed out on the show, can you really organize a committee of 175 million people?
The clip featuring both of these conversations is below, or go here for the entire episode.