I've lost count of how many times I've heard and said some variation of "You know, that Facebook post will come back to haunt you someday. Mark my words." After all, Facebook posts, Twitter messages, e-mails, texts and pretty much every communication created in this digital age become a part of one's "permanent record." For Chris Kelly, though, the warning takes on a whole new meaning. It's not one Facebook post that's at issue, but the whole of his tenure as Facebook's privacy chief.
The 39-year-old resigned his post last month to run for office in California. He says his experience at the social-networking company will "help make him an innovative and successful attorney general," according to SFGate.com. Before working at Facebook, Kelly also served as a policy adviser to President Bill Clinton and completed a clerkship for a federal judge. He earned his law degree from Harvard. Yet, as SFGate.com writer Marisa Lagos points out, Kelly has focused his campaign for California's attorney general thus far on his tenure at Facebook.
And that focus could well come beck to bite him quickly. After all, most of Facebook's privacy problems, as well as complaints to the Federal Trade Commission and other privacy regulators came during Kelly's watch. Under Kelly's guidance, the latest changes to Facebook's privacy policies have been adopted, and by virtue of his position and his silence on the issue, it could be argued that Kelly completely acquiesced in CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent declaration that Facebook's privacy changes merely reflect the fact that the general public isn't as concerned with privacy as it once was.
More than likely I'm in the minority, but if I were a California resident, I would be wary of this candidate in the AG's office. If privacy really is in "intensive care" as one expert told me not long ago, I'm not sure Kelly would know how to protect what little we have left.