Copyright ©2010 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Now to a man who is trying to fend off a mutiny among his 400 million clients. He's the man behind Facebook, the 26-year-old founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Yesterday, he announced a new privacy system that will simply how users can control who sees their information. That new policy came after weeks of increasingly angry protests from Facebook users who complained that the social networking site was disclosing personal data to third parties.

Mark Zuckerberg joins us from Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto. Welcome to the program.

Mr. MARK ZUCKERBERG (CEO, Facebook): Thanks for having me.

BLOCK: We've been hearing these protests getting louder and louder. There's a we're-quitting-Facebook campaign on the net. Did this level of user anger catch you off guard?

Mr. ZUCKERBERG: You know, whenever we launch products, a lot of people like the products and a lot of people are critical. And I think that that's just something that comes with having more than 400 million people using your service. So what we try to do is we try to build the products that we think are best and then we listen to what people are saying, how people are talking to their friends about the product, what they tell us, you know, the emails they send us.

What we heard loud and clear this time was that people wanted simpler controls for how to share their information. We've spent the last few weeks building those. It was a pretty big effort, but we really wanted to make sure that we were responding to the feedback that we were hearing. So that's what we rolled out.

BLOCK: Let's tick through some of the nuts and bolts about how this is going to work. I am a Facebook member. I haven't gotten any message yet about the new policy or how to change my settings. When is this going into effect?

Mr. ZUCKERBERG: So we started rolling it out yesterday, and we want to make sure that the launch goes smoothly, so we're going to be rolling it out over the next few days up to a week. And after a week from now, everyone will have the new settings.

BLOCK: Okay. And if right now, there are about 170 different privacy options, maybe 50 privacy settings. How many will there be under the new system?

Mr. ZUCKERBERG: Well, there's one main setting that controls all of the content that you share on a day-to-day basis on Facebook. If you want to use all of the granular settings that you had before for each individual piece of information, those are all still there because a lot of people really enjoyed them.

But what we heard was that people really just wanted a simple control that they could turn to, and that's what we really invested in building here.

BLOCK: One control. You're saying I can click on one thing, and it will change all of my settings if I want it to.

Mr. ZUCKERBERG: For all the content that you share, all your photos, status updates, and all the day-to-day content that you're sharing on the site.

BLOCK: Here is the most common complaint that I've heard - I actually sent a message out on Facebook to ask for questions. People are saying: Why not make privacy the default setting? In the new system, you're still going to have to actively choose if you want to opt out of sharing information. Instead, why not have people actively choose to opt in if they want to share it publicly, and otherwise, their privacy will be protected?

Mr. ZUCKERBERG: When people why don't we have the most restrictive settings, I think what they're asking is why don't we set things to be visible to friends only by default. And the answer to that is that Facebook has always just been about friends and community. So that's why.

There's this false rumor that's been going around, which says that we're sharing private information with applications, and it's just not true. The way it works is if you choose to share some information with everyone on the site, then that means that any person can go look up that information, and any application can go look up that information, as well.

So some applications can access the information that you've already made visible to everyone, but applications have to ask for permission for anything that you've set to be private.

The rumors that have been going around that say that, you know, that people are sharing information, their private information, with applications are actually just not true.

BLOCK: And when we talk about applications, we're talking maybe about games, Farmville, things like that, but if you haven't actively shut that off, they're getting that information, right?

Mr. ZUCKERBERG: If you say that something is visible to everyone, then that means that any person or any application can go see it. But if you decided, for example, that you want your photos to only be visible to your friends or your family, then that means that no one is going to be able to see it, and no applications are going to be able to see that without asking for permission first.

BLOCK: Mr. Zuckerberg, aren't there pretty significant revenue implications here for Facebook? The more data that you're able to share with third parties or advertisers, the more valuable you are to them. That data is really gold in your universe.

Mr. ZUCKERBERG: You know, this is actually a really big misperception, too. We don't share any information with advertisers. The way the system works is that advertisers come to us and tell us what they want to advertise, and we are able to show their ads to the people we think are going to be most interested.

But since we're targeting the ads ourselves, at no point during that process do advertisers actually get access to the information. If you're asking, you know, how do we make money, we really make money when people enjoy using the service.

Right, when people share information with their friends, then they're on the service, and then there's the ability for us to show them ads. But, you know, we think about that more as if we provide value for people, then we'll also be able to build a good company. But the primary thing that we focus on all day long is how to help people share and stay connected with their friends, family and the people in the community around them. That's what we care about, and that's why we started the company.

BLOCK: Well, Mark Zuckerberg, thanks for talking to us today.

Mr. ZUCKERBERG: Yeah, thank you.

BLOCK: Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Facebook.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.