Hey Mark, Stop Acting Like An Asshole
There are a lot of aspects of the recent Facebook privacy debacle that evoke hostility towards the website. A shift in privacy context and the assumed consent of users likely the top list for most. However, I believe that Mark Zuckerberg and company are doing a lot to take would could have been a heated public debate about the nature of privacy online and turning it into a national flamewar. What are they doing exactly? They are acting like condescending assholes.
Consider Mr. Zuckerberg's column yesterday in the Washington Post. Likely intended to be an apology and statement of how wrongs will be corrected, the column comes off as a disingenuous piece of PR double speak. For example, of the five principles presented that supposedly direct Facebook's actions, two are blatantly not true:
- "You have control over how your information is shared." - If this were truly a guiding principle then how did we end up in this mess? Shouldn't you not have to write a column in a major newspaper addressing the unwelcomed changes in how the information of users is shared?
- "We do not give advertisers access to your personal information." - As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, Facebook, as well as a number of other social networking sites, have been sharing personal information with advertisers. While it appears that this sharing may have been due to some oversight in coding, it is hard to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt considering that the company had been contacted about this issue nine months before the Journal article.
The disconnect between what Mr. Zuckerberg is telling me and what I am actually seeing is insulting. As we have come to find out, Zuckerberg is apt to insult his users, so perhaps he is just being disingenuous because he thinks we are dumb fucks.
I admit that a lot of these observations are subjective; one person's arrogant ass is another's strong leader. And I do not think for a moment that this post is not petty. In fact, that's the point. My perception of the Facebook brass is impacting my reactions and opinions in this matter; at times I react more to the insults and complete lack of respect I perceive than the actual matters of privacy and choice. I doubt I am the only one, and I really wish that Facebook would smarten up and improve its PR department.
Of course, I should learn to focus on the real matter at hand instead of the emotionally charged tangential aspects. But to assume that all involved in this debate can overcome their visceral anger, or to ask everybody to do as such, is foolhardy. It would be stupid of me to slap somebody and expect them to not want to harm me.
Mark, stop slapping us around! We like Facebook, and we would like to have a constructive conversation about it. But that is hard to do when you keep pissing us off. When you want to speak to us you need to show us respect.