Friday, December 4, 2009

(A Parody of the) Open Letter from Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg

It has been a great year for making the world more open and connected, allowing both pictures and videos of adorable kittens to flow freely though our culture. Thanks to your help, more than 350 million people around the world are using Facebook to share their lives online, all the while filling my pockets with some serious cash-money!

To make this possible, we have focused on giving you the tools you need to share and control your information . . . all your information, every last bit in fact, because apparently you guys have no common sense whatsoever. Starting with the very first version of Facebook five years ago, we've built tools that help you control what you share with which individuals and groups of people. We've also removed the fields we originally included as a joke, like "social security number," "combination to my safe," and "places where I am most vulnerable." Our work to improve privacy continues today, because it has to, you people are dumb enough to put almost anything on the internet.

Facebook's current privacy model revolves around "networks" — communities for your school, your company or your region. This worked well when Facebook was mostly used by students, before anybody's stupid mom joined and spoiled the party.

Over time people also asked us to add networks for companies and regions as well. Today we even have networks for some entire countries, like India and China, just in case you wanted to share something with only a very specific billion people. (While we were at it, we also created networks for Antarctica, the Moon, and Hogwarts.)

However, as Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and we've concluded that this is no longer the best way for you to control your privacy. Almost 50 percent of all Facebook users are members of regional networks, so this is an important issue for us. If we can build a better system, then more than 100 million people will have even more control of their information, and they'll immediately join a facebook group protesting the addition of that control.

The plan we've come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone. Of course you can already do that, so really what we're doing is removing some of your options! I guess by "simpler" what I meant was "less robust."

We're adding something that many of you have asked for — the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload. Now you can write what ever you want into your "20 Things" post without the 'rents ever finding out about the bad stuff! In addition, we'll also be fulfilling a request made by many of you to make the privacy settings page simpler by combining some settings. If you want to read more about this, we began discussing this plan back in July. But then if you weren't smart enough to figure out a single page of privacy settings, you're probably not much of a "reader," are you?

Since this update will remove regional networks and create some new settings, in the next couple of weeks we'll ask you to review and update your privacy settings. You'll see a message that will explain the changes, which you won't read, and take you to a page where you can update your settings, which you won't do. When you're finished not doing that, we'll show you a confirmation page so you can make sure you didn't bother choosing the right settings for you. As always, once you're done you'll still be able to change your settings whenever you want, not that you'll ever bother or even think about it again.

We've worked hard to build controls that we think will be better for you, plus easier for our legal defense to hide behind. We'll suggest settings for you based on your current level of privacy, but the best way for you to find the right settings is to read through all your options and customize them for yourself, which unfortunately requires a level of motivation you don't dare aspire to. I encourage you to do this and consider who you're sharing with online, idiot.

Thanks for being a part of making Facebook what it is today*, and for helping to make the world more open and connected. I'm gonna go take a bath in some money.

Mark Zuckerberg (with some minor editing by Sam)

*A place to play Scrabble while you're in class.

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