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Facebook CEO: 'We've made mistakes' on privacy

by Laurie Segall, CNN


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, ending his silence about recent privacy controversies, has admitted to making some mistakes and promised to fix the problems.

In a letter Sunday to tech blogger Robert Scoble, Zuckerberg wrote, "I know we've made a bunch of mistakes, but my hope at the end of this is that the service ends up in a better place and that people understand that our intentions are in the right place, and we respond to the feedback from the people we serve."

In addition, Zuckerberg addressed the concerns over Facebook's complicated privacy controls in an op-ed piece published Monday in the Washington Post.

"There needs to be a simpler way to control your information," he wrote. "In the coming weeks, we will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use. We will also give you an easy way to turn off all third-party services."

The letter and op-ed pieces were the CEO's first responses to the furor over Facebook's user privacy moves that left the site with a public relations problem and fighting to defend its reputation.

The site, which boasts nearly 500 million users, has been under fire in the past few months for confusing privacy policies and technical glitches that exposed users' private data.

In early May, a technical mishap allowed a select number of users to view friends' private chats. The incident occurred less than three months after some Facebook users received private messages that weren't intended for them, the result of another technical glitch.

The privacy problems only added to the flak Facebook faced after launching services that made certain information on profile information available to the public, a move that many users had difficulty understanding.

"They've made a few changes, and they have so many settings that people are confused," Scoble told CNNMoney.com.

The recent events have put the massive site at the forefront of a larger discussion: the evolution of privacy on the Web.

"They're hitting several problems that all point to trust, an eroding of trust that we have with Facebook the company and Facebook the service," Scoble said.

According to Zuckerberg's response, Facebook will address the privacy concern this week.

Scoble equated the privacy outrage to both Facebook's complicated privacy settings and the company's inability to communicate why users should share their private information with the public.

"Part of privacy is you'll give it up if you know you're getting something in return," Scoble said. "You'll check in on Foursquare (another social networking site) if you get a free beer. The problem is Zuckerberg hasn't demonstrated what the free beer (from Facebook) is."  To top of page

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