Wednesday, Wired's Eliot Van Buskirk reminded the world once again that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't put much stock in privacy. The issue came up again when New York Times tech blogger Nick Bilton tweeted the gist of a conversation he had with an unnamed Facebook employee regarding Zuckerberg's personal stance on privacy.
The employee's response: "He doesn't believe in it." Granted, we don't know who the employee is or what the employee's position is, so there's no way to determine whether this person truly knows what the social networking CEO is thinking, but seriously. Is there really any doubt in anyone's mind anymore how the boy genius feels about privacy?
Zuckerberg built his whole business around collecting our information in such a way that he can serve relevant and interesting ads to us while we're spending time on his site. If the ads relate to things he already knows about us because it's what we've voluntarily told Facebook, chances are better that we'll actually click through and purchase something or take some other action that will result in revenue for the advertiser. That, of course, results in money for Facebook.
Moreover, he has made no bones about the fact that he believes social norms are changing to the point that people don't - and shouldn't - expect privacy anymore. After all, the business world and the Web are moving more and more toward transparency, so who needs privacy? At least that's how the theory goes. Or, as online marketing specialist Ashley Baxter told me recently:
Online privacy is dead unless you're comfortable looking like you've got something to hide.
The best advice I've seen so far on how to deal with it all came from BigFix CTO Amrit Williams, who says:
[A] prudently paranoid person would assume that they have no privacy and conduct themselves accordingly.