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Mark Zuckerberg Defends New Privacy Controls and Facebook Mission at D8

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg graced the stage at All Things D’s D8 Conference last night to talk about the new and hotly debated privacy features as well as Facebook’s overall direction. Joining him on stage were columnists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, who shot questions at the young CEO about instant personalization, opt-in, and whether or not he ever takes off his hoodie.

By interview’s end, Zuckerberg had only gone just far enough to bridge the gap between him and his detractors, but he was consistent in making clear that in his view, Facebook’s mission was and has always been to help people to share information with the world around them.

Four highlights:

1. Zuckerberg: Privacy has always been a concern in designing the products for Facebook.

Zuckerberg spoke at length, if somewhat awkwardly, about how every product Facebook has designed since its inception has had privacy as a major concern. For him, the idea that Facebook makes all information completely open is a misperception that ought to have been remedied by privacy settings that, over time, became complex. The newly released privacy settings are a reflections of weeks of work and responding to criticisms and are meant to streamline the experience.

2. Facebook is about more than sharing with your friends. Wait…

You might be a little confused by this little statement, but what Mr. Mark means is that Facebook is in a position to create services that allow people in a community to share information with one another. More than sharing with a limited group of people, Zuckerberg believes that people want to be in an environment where they can share with one another between regions, companies, and institutions. Here, Zuckerberg seems to espouse a view that privacy should come after the sharing no matter how integral it is to the whole equation, but his belief in Facebook’s mission to make the world “open and connected” is clear. Almost to the point of mantra.

3. Social plugins and instant personalization is where things are headed

Facebook is currently making a big push toward plugins and services that personalize the online experience for its users. Starting with Connect, Zuckerberg used the example of a project with Pandora they have worked on that allows music that the user likes to be played in the background. Great idea, as Mossberg admits, which leads into the next point:

4. Making products that allow people to share and control their information in a simple way is a balancing act.

Responding to the question of whether or not people should have more control in their hands when they access their Facebook profiles, Zuckerberg called the process of creating a service that makes that experience easy and accessible is a balancing act and there can be considerable growing pains. The issue of opt-in, in particular, is a just part of that balancing act.

Case in point: When the News Feed was released, roughly 10% of all Facebook users railed against it. By now, it has become such an integral part of the overall Facebook experience that entire services are built around it, so the idea of opting in or out of it would be “crazy.” Zuckerberg hopes that there will eventually come a time when people in general will wonder why there ever were websites that weren’t instantly personalized, and that their push for these innovations will be for the good, once again reiterating his belief that people want to share with the world.

[via AllThingsD]

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