When do you throw a CEO's privacy under the bus?

It’s interesting that lots of people who really don’t like Facebook’s privacy don’t get mad when journalists and bloggers put into public view Steve Jobs’ emails to them.

Today I got an email from Mark Zuckerberg, CEO/founder of Facebook. I am not going to be the one to put that into public view until he gives me permission to.

Why not?

1. Mark is a friend. Someone I want to have a long-term relationship with and I can guarantee you that if someone took MY emails and put them into public view they wouldn’t be trusted as a real-life friend.
2. If I start doing that, other people will trust me less. Even if I didn’t care about what Mark thought of me, I do care what other people in the industry think of me and I want them to be free to send me emails without having them show up on my blog without their prior permission.
3. If he wanted it in public he could have answered me in public, there’s lots of ways to do that, including at http://facebook.com/scobleizer

That said, I asked for permission to put the email into public view because I think you all should have access to the information in it. I’ll let you know later.

What would you have done with an email if Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg emailed you?

It’s amazing to me that people who are speaking up about privacy and Facebook, like Jason Calacanis, Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis haven’t spoken out against having Steve Jobs’ emails taken out of a private context and printed in a public one.

If you don’t speak up for Steve Jobs’ privacy, what right do you have to speak up for your own privacy? Why isn’t that hypocritical? Just because CEOs are public figures and their emails contain information that would be of interest to the public?


UPDATE: Zuckerberg gave me permission to print this email while I was typing this post:


We’ve been listening to all the feedback and have been trying to distill it down to the key things we need to improve. I’d like to show an improved product rather than just talk about things we might do.

We’re going to be ready to start talking about some of the new things we’ve built this week. I want to make sure we get this stuff right this time.

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.

I hope we’ll get a chance to catch up in person sometime this week. Let me know if you have any thoughts for me before then.


Here’s a screen shot of the email string:

Email with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble


  1. Why are you assuming that Jobs assumes his email responses are private? or for that matter, any email correspondence is truly private? Jobs knows his responses help clear up that issue.

    And how can Zuckerberg improve his company, if he doesn’t change his reasons, intentions as to why they did such things? They want the data to make money from. The more open, the better for them.
    Beacon? url links with personally identifying details – that they got told about months ago? Changing defaults from private to public?…

    The public may not want reactive corrections, so much as a company more in line with their views on privacy, and how far Facebook can push to get the data they seem to crave to make money.

    If it’s not about money, then what is it? Control? The user? Doesn’t seem to be pro-user changes at the moment.

    There’s a difference between an unwritten social rule, and a companie’s Terms & Conditions.

  2. Robert, it seems you are suggesting that the issue of an email conversation made public by one of the two parties involved is somehow of the same importance as the issue of the changing privacy policies of Facebook and how they affect the millions of users of that service.

    You also seem to suggest that Jason, Leo and Jeff have some responsibility to spend time discussing the possible privacy violation of a single CEO (whom as far as I know hasn’t asked for consideration in this) in order to have the credibility to discuss the possible privacy violation (or at least the possible violation of expectations) of millions of people.

    That seems disproportionate and inappropriate.

  3. You’re right about the sjobs emails, you could consider them to be private, but that’s where the comparison ends.
    Yes they’re private but at the same time they’re not. Apple’s a public company, Mr Jobs knows how it goes, he knows his fans love it and he’s not holding back.

    M.Z. wrote you a typical corporate email.
    It’s good he’s getting out there but all he needed to do was make everything private by default.
    And he didn’t.
    People think their data is private, that’s why they connected on Facebook and now their data is out there and they haven’t got a clue.
    I forgot the name of the site that exposes what’s going on, but it’s bad, I’m sure some people are already in ‘damage control’ – mode.

    Robert, I’ve been reading your blog, you don’t care about your own privacy, you’re an open book, privacy is dead to you, but all that being said : I don’t believe for one second you would have done what M.Z. did.

  4. So, you’re concerned about revealing information about someone who has said that they don’t believe in personal privacy?
    It makes a difference when it’s business related?

  5. Jeff Vilimek is absolutely right.

    Pulling the rug out on millions of users is not the same as you respecting your friends privacy and not publishing his email. You know each other and you are being smart, however, email like any other medium where a conversation occurs, is open to sharing. The two parties may hope it’s not shared but you should be aware it may be.

    And comparing it to Steve Jobs new email PR strategy is completely disingenuous.

    Steve Jobs sends press ready pithy emails to total strangers and has been doing it for months and virtually every single one of them gets “leaked.”

    He knows that creates buzz and encourages more people to email him.

    And most importantly that response from Marc Zuck is absolutely inauthentic. He’s been doing this for years and they only react when the uproar gets big enough.

    FB is like a little kid that tries to get away with whatever they can and only apologizes when they are completely busted. He has done nothing that shows he cares about privacy.

    I call these Tiger Woods apologies.
    He has called having a public side and a private side a sign of bad character.

    His stance is clear.

  6. When the CEO is stupid enough to send a “personal” email. The CEO, and indeed most of the upper management,at my company have canned confidentiality statements attached to their emails. You are convinced the email from Zucktard is direct to you – funny how it opens with just “Hey” and not even “Hey Robert”; I wonder how many other people were on the BCC list.

  7. One thing has nothing to do with the other …. WHAT? You really think Steve Jobs does not realize with 100% certainty that his email exchanges WILL be made public? You do not think Fbook's ZUCK does not also realize that his email will be made public (and put him in a good light)…. guess what…your being used as a tool IMO


    1. Two men stroking each other in public — a truly modern work, Robert. Is there any other content here?

      I wish you’d go back to your micro-whoring on FriendFeed. This is beyond embarrassing.


    2. Here’s an idea! Praise Facebook for it’s lack of privacy, then throw a fit about privacy, and then throw all your gmail friend’s privacy under the busy by not censoring out your chat window. Good god scoble…..

    3. Its like the code of the streets Andy if you are talking to someone and then you go and tell someone else what you were just talkinhg about in private it would ruin your relationship with that person and also ruin your reputation. A conversation isnt explicitly supposed to be private however if you go and tell someone else about what you and him were just talking about you know what is private and what isnt, same goes for all communication.

    4. Well when you talk to your buddies on facebook and I mean that nicely why not ask them why someone can hack into my account and then I report it and they disable my account, but I keep getting emails for the account that is supposely disabled. So tell them I want my friggin account back my name appears below. So through a nobody a hand

  8. Not much in that email Robert… Certainly not enough that is worth upsetting your relationship with Mr Z :)

    Although I agree with you you should ask permission, if Steve Jobs knows that he is communicating with a journalist then he probably expects that his comments will be made public. Similarly, communicating with a member of the public, he knows that person might make his comments public because there is no relationship to upset, therefore he probably assumes his comments *are* public…

  9. Of course he does. But I think it breaks the privacy contract we all have with each other when you take something out of email and post it on your blog. If you say “no it doesn't” then you CAN NOT DECRY FACEBOOK'S PRIVACY MOVES!!! It's hypocritical. Even Facebook doesn't do that.

    1. This page was pretty hard to load. Something called touch arcade. The page kept jumping down and it took awhile to get any mouse control over the verticalscroll bar. The rest of the internet works ok.

  10. I have the same concern when I see email threads posted, but felt that CEOs know the risk when they send those emails. It's good to see you take the trouble to check with Mark. Kudos!

  11. I just read the Mark's e-mail & it's perfectly fine. It shows Facebook's concern for each & every user and so the response to you. If I was Mark, I wouldn't have cared for the x,y,z posts & critics and would have given stiff answers directly to public for once showing up my swagger. I would definitely have not e-mailed anyone (even if it was my friend). I liked the way they are patient listeners & are keen to reply personally.

    This privacy issue is really blown out of proportion & the critics taking the full advantage of it. Page deletion issue might be error or like someone was saying too many complaints might have caused the page to shut down. In either case, it can be fixed when its reached to their support instead of trying for a 'publicity' stunt.

    Facebook anyway should have had enough with this privacy cry. They will answer it. Stiff answers coming shortly!!

    1. i think Mark Z wishes everybody was a tool like you..comon FB..just post everybody’s email addresses…nobody cares..and if they do..just apologize..these fools won’t know..easy does it.

      Privacy is not a big deal..don’t worry about it!

      why don’t we just send Mark Z. some paypal donations for all the troubles privacy advocates caused him….poor guy.

      viva quitfacebookday.com!

  12. I'm sure he assumes them, but why not just have the conversations in the public sphere then? Say “I'd like to talk with you over on this blog, or over on Facebook or somewhere else?”

    1. Here’s what I tell my end users. Don’t put in email what aren’t will to stand up yell across the building. Unless the email is encrypted or you have control over all the resources that have access to that data, there should be no expectation of privacy.

      1. Of course there is and should be an expectation of privacy! That’s why there are authentication methods designed to protect you from outside prying eyes. Because a government can subpoena your emails, financial, health or personal records it doesn’t mean you can’t expect them to be private. By stating something as dumb as that you are actually validating what Facebook is doing. E-mail isn’t 100% bulletproof but neither is anything in your life. Your car and house can be broken into. You can have your things stolen from a place you expect is protecting your things. Saying you can’t expect privacy when you using an e-mail is like saying you can’t expect someone to respect a gold watch you left on top of your drawer in your house.

    2. Let Zuck and JOBS worry about their own privacy… why I should I worry about it? I have a hard enough time guarding my own. I don’t care what your POINT was, it is disingenuous of you to argue it this way

  13. The difference is that it does not serve the public interest to publish my private conversations with close friends on Facebook. Journalists are supposed to enlighten the populace, and you can do that by publishing email conversations with CEOs on the subject of current events.

    It all comes down to the issue of what you can expect based on the format in which you have a conversation. I don't buy the argument that it's a privacy violation to publish a CEO's words when he emails you *without asking for confidentiality* and on the subject of a hot issue.

    To me, it's a judgment issue. If Mark tells you that he's about to leave Facebook and that he wants to keep this quiet, you obviously do not publish that. But if you don't get that vibe from the email (and I didn't get that from what Mark wrote to you), you should publish it.

    Ethically speaking, print and TV journalists can publish anything they want (including sources' names) unless the source asks for confidentiality or requests that the conversation take place “off the record.” How are those ethical guidelines different from the ones that bloggers should follow?

  14. I totally disagree. If that CEO wants his words in public he should make them in public, or, at least, post at the top of the email something like “please feel free to use this on your blog.”

    If it's in email there is an expectation of privacy FOR EVERYONE. If you think there is not then you have absolutely no right to speak up against Facebook's privacy changes.

  15. Robert, I agree with Andy that these are two completely different things. You may have a “privacy contract” in theory with people who you communicate through a medium like email that they will keep something private. However, this is not something inherent to email, it is part of the personal or professional relationship that you have with that person. Most of the emails that have come out from people like Steve Jobs, were with people that he did not have a personal and/or professional relationship with (at least that I know of) so no expectation of privacy. There was not a tacit agreement of any kind. E-mail does not have any type of inherent privacy policy between the two individuals who are communicating with, it is part of the relationshiip you have with the person you are sending the email to..
    Facebook is changing the rules after the start of the game and doing a horrible job of explaining the rule changes to people who agreed to a different set of rules.

    Completely different!

  16. We all tend to trust that there is more privacy than a connected world can offer. Anything you post or send out can be sniffed, shared or misplaced.

    Corporations making a misstep can do a lot of damage to a lot of people, but one person taking action that breaks the trust is worse. It's not multiplied like actions that affect millions, but that one acts is a total break of trust.

    I applaud you for your decision to keep trust with those in power to affect many (and I assume you'd do the same for anyone).

    Zuck's excuse that they are waiting for something positive is flimsy. You don't have to make vapor feature announcements or even a promise to publicly admit there is a problem and say “we hear you”

  17. Robert, if you think Zuckerberg didn't send that email to you without knowing you'd publish it, you're either naive or your letting his friendship with you get in the way or your news judgment. That's little more than a press release and your “I have this private email from Zuckerberg” tease only gives it more weight than it deserves.

    That said, you're right to request permission. I wonder how many of the folks who've released Jobs emails have asked. He, along with Zuck, know just what will happen when they email someone. Still, it would be interesting to see if Jobs would even reply to such a request.

  18. I look forward to seeing what is changed, and would like to see Facebook make moves in the right direction (whatever that is). For me it's too late, the moves they have made in the past month have shown that their ambition is bigger than their integrity as a business. I don't think technical changes can fix that imbalance.

  19. If I was a good buddy of sjobs, I'd certainly know not to divulge his information in public, or I'd expect to stop being a friend. If I'm a fan, and I write an email saying, “Why don't you make the next iPhone x,” and he answers me, I'd post it on the rumor sites because I'm certain that's why he wrote and said, “Yup.” If I'm Eric Schmidt, and Jobs just wrote me with an offer to buy Google, if I publish it, the deal would definitely be off. You know, Scoble, it's public v. private. It has a lot of levels, most of them instinctual. We definitely need privacy, or we can never learn to concentrate. And this is from a former commune inmate. What I learned was, some privacy, some ego, is necessary for sanity.

  20. Absolutely wrong.

    An email is implicitly TO YOU and NOT to “the public.” It isn't to your wife. It isn't to your boss. It isn't to your friend down the street. It is explicitly to you. The fact that you take it out of that context and break the implicit privacy contract tells me you really can't be trusted with, well, anything.

    Our expectations are that email is private. At least most people's are.

    Me? I have no such expectations which is why I always try to get people to come into the public view anyway, like here. That way people don't get confused. It's also why I set Facebook's privacy settings to “as public as possible.”

    1. Jeff Jarvis makes a perfectly valid point that the idea of public to you, is different to my idea of public, as a private individual. You exist on a different stage, a very public one where everything you say on a professional level, be it in an email or on a blog – is public or potentially public. To put it another way, there is general public interest in what you have to say – so anything you write professionally will at some stage get out. There is no public interest in what i have to say and i, as an anonymous member of the general public, am not prepared for public access to what i have to say unless i explicitly & knowingly state it.

      You just said it – you have no expectations [of privacy], nor does Steve Jobs. But I and the rest of the anon public do. Furthermore, Steve, you and anyone communicating on this level, do so in the knowledge that your emails may end up public. The rest of us (read; 99.999% of us) are not used to, equipped, prepared – put it how you will – to deal with such public-ness.

      When we talk about public – we mean our friends and people they know. that’s all. We (the 99.99% of us) have a relatively poor concept of what it really means to be public.

    2. Robert – I do think you are correct in checking with Zuck before posting his email. That is the honorable thing to do. I do have to agree with Laporte and others regarding Facebook’s business tactics. To begin a site stating that there is an expectation of privacy and then changing the business process later so you can benefit from that relationship is wrong. Plain, simple wrong. THAT is what Laporte and others are objecting to and why we can’t trust Facebook. Sorry – you may be friends with Zuck but he blew it here. you can’t say one thing, build up people’s expectations and then sell their information behind their back for your own purpose. This is why there is such a backlash and why I canceled my Facebook account (only after an hour of trying to figure out how to do it!!!),
      I don’t have any expectation of privacy on Facebook or anywhere else on the web, including in my own emails that I send to people, but Facebook has crossed a line that should NEVER be crossed with customers. Zuck is now finding out what happens when you do this.

    3. This is about the failure to disclose inappropriate use of someones personal information for your economic profit.

      This is an issue of the privacy and security of our information on social networks and the need for the general public to have easy ways to control their content.

      Without forced sharing to broader networks of people facebook ceases to be fruitful. Changed settings that force more sharing do not benefit the user. They benefit third parties that have an economic interest in human behavior so they can more effectively market products they don’t need and probably can’t afford.

    4. Robert – here is the thing that’s different, though. At least in my opinion.

      You are a person. Facebook is a website. There’s a video that makes this sound really funny. But it’s actually quite true. I can choose not to trust you and still talk to all my OTHER friends. Right now, there is no alternative when it comes to facebook. It has its users by the proverbial balls. “If you don’t like it, don’t use it” is hard to do when most of your friends are sharing their private pictures on facebook. It’s just like other mass human phenomena … everyone has peer pressure from everyone else not to leave. So when facebook uses that position to FORCE its users to make information public that was previously private, as a condition of using the service, then that has wider implications for EVERYONE than just you taking one person’s email and publishing it. It is underscoring the fact that, right now, we have very little alternative but to use facebook.

      See http://freemeet.com/blog :)


    5. I agree completely. When I send an email via FB to my girlfriends, it’s because I don’t care to share it with EVERYONE on my FB including my own mother. I think if you are willing to throw ANYONE’S privacy under the bus, you are not someone I would want to send an email to. I do business on a frequent basis with businesses that supply MY business, and even when I want to post what a great job they have done, I ask PERMISSION to show any information they have shared, PRIOR to showing it.
      Overall, I think the belief that one person deserves privacy, but another does not is hypocrisy, especiallly since the attitude seems to overwhelming be “I deserve it, but (Said celebrity/business owner/CEO) does not.”
      Grow up, and learn you are responsible for YOUR behavior… and that just because someone you consider to be a big enough name that their response is a ‘prize’ has responded, does NOT mean you have the right to exploit their willingness to be open and responsive. It’s the jerks that do that, that ruin it for the rest of us.

  21. And you just proved you can't be trusted with privacy of anyone. But I already knew that, that's why I don't care so much about my privacy and I live my life in open public view. Less confusion that way.

    1. Are you KIDDING? Did I miss something? How did “Swift2″ just prove that HE can’t be trusted?!! That sounded really nasty and I can’t see what Swift2 did “wrong” for you to be so spiteful…

      I am new to your content, but if you TRULY DO “live my life in open public view. Less confusion that way” then can I have your bank account number and the names/IDs of all your friends on Facebook? It’s “less confusing” for me that way.


      Sorry, but this whole thread comes off as you trying to pretend to be a “Big Man” by name-dropping Zuckerberg and bragging you are “personal friends” with him. Other than the name-dropping and the providing cover for what clearly are sleazy attempts to game peoples’ personal info against the initial agreements people signed… then what IS this article about *really*?

  22. On what are you basing your claim that email has an inherent expectation of privacy? If you talk to someone on the phone, do you assume that every conversation is private and that the other person will not share the contents of the call, because it is a direct connection between two people. It is private in that a third party cannot tap into the phone call without permission, but in most cases the information in the phone call can be disclosed with the permission of one of the parties involved. The two parties rely on their relationship (or agreement) as to how the information will be handled.

  23. Personally think Gmail which is a personal e-mail provider is more to be worried about than Facebook. Buzz inside Gmail is such a wrong thing to do. One password sync to entire Google services sounds scary too.

    1. Are we being picky according to the company? That makes sense. :P I can’t say I like Buzz OR Facebook. In fact, Good Ol’ fashioned face-to-face talk works for me if I want something private (assuming they don’t work for the CIA/FBI/have any personal recorders on them/have their all-too-smart phone out), otherwise I assume that there is the potential for someone somewhere to misuse it online. Also, there is a crucial difference between a Facebook and a mail account; one of them is practically necessary if you plan on doing anything today (yes, snail mail still exists, but you aren’t going to get very far with that today), the other still is (thankfully) not a necessity.

      I also don’t think you can dismiss everyone who doesn’t like Facebook by saying they had a bad experience, I just find that an extreme presumption that dismissed the possibility of someone actually having a problem in general with the way some things operate.

      Instead of making the logical fallacy of bashing another person, I suggest looking at a service, like, say Twitter, which is 100% clear about its role in privacy; once its sent, its out there for everyone to view. Similarly, Mr. Scobleizer, an e-mail, whether or not its supposed to be private, has been sent and is NOT in your control once it has been sent (before that it is theoretically up to you). Whether or not it is supposed to be private becomes a matter of social etiquette then, for the two parties to quibble over (as you are all doing a wonderful job at in this comment thread). The issue with Facebook I don’t think is a matter of social etiquette, its a matter of technological and legal confusion and distortion. A confusion over a series of technological privacy settings, and use of the information that you use, more importantly by a technological system, not a human being, does not equate to a problem of etiquette with a human on the other end.

      I agree that there is a certain correlation between the etiquette and social standards that go into designing the system and the social standards that apply to e-mail, however I believe the difference is that most people are upset about misrepresentation of the privacy of their information, and their complaints are about the physical system itself and its operation, not as much the fact that yes, someone could go do bad things with the stuff they put there. As I said before, I think you should always take a certain level of caution when communicating, especially online.

  24. A phone call is one thing. It's against the law to record a call without the permission of both parties. So, if you repeat something to someone else there's plausible deniability “oh, he must have heard wrong.”

    With an email it's recording without both parties prior approval. It's a direct breaking of the privacy contract that email has.

  25. i disagree about the Jobs emails. when a celebrity sends an email to a journalist who regularly covers him/her in the press, there is a reasonable expectation that it will be published…these days its PR

  26. Of course Mark knew I could publish it and I'm sure he knew it would be treated like a press release but it still was written to me privately and not in public view.

    If we don't treat the privacy of everyone the same, why should we expect Zuckerberg or team to care about OUR privacy concerns?

  27. I disagree. If we go down that rathole then we don't end up with a good privacy discussion. If something should be discussed in public, then let's take it into public view and discuss it there. This is the same kind of bad thinking that leads companies to make bad privacy decisions. You MUST treat EVERYONE's privacy the same.

    1. When information is intentionally “leaked” to the press (ie Journalist) it is a *tactic* used in the marketing world (not to mention government)… Jobs *Knew* that this information would make it to the press, which is why it was written that particular way.

      SCO, where do you classify the “intentional leak” in your spectrum of email privacy? I guess journalists taking comments on “background” (without attribution) intented for distribution are guilty of PRIVACY VIOLATION? Jobs was “leaking” for his own promotional benefit and gain…

      Jeeez, do you WORK for Jobs and Zuckerberg, or are you just in such awe of their fame (and your ‘friend status’) that your journalistic eye has been splattered to a pulp? Journalists have a JOB to not cow-tow to power… it’s embarrassing that this is practically a paid advertisement.

  28. You're right Robert, and if nothing else it's usually polite to ask someone if you can republish their email in a public forum.

  29. Robert…I like the way you are handling this.

    And yes, it is about trust. And honestly, I'm trusting you more by following this story ;)

  30. Agree Robert, it is hypocritical when they don't decry on a CEO's email being made public. Emails are strictly meant for intended recipients, Facebook does not exactly work the same way. Anyway, I think this post is not about Facebook's privacy but about everyone, including Steve Job's right to privacy. Agree absolutely.

    Btw, you are baring your gtalk contact list too ?

  31. Good for you on showing respect for Mark Zuckerburg's privacy. Too bad the email he allowed you to share says nothing, is about as meaningful & takes as much responsibility as the CEO of BP expressing his sorrow for the “tiny oil spill in a really huge ocean”.

  32. I think it depends on whether you define your role as being Mark's friend or of being a journalist. If you are both (as could be true of anyone with a blog or Twiiter account) then you need to consider the context.

    If I get an email from a friend (even a “Facebook friend”) I will always ask permission before I publish it anywhere. If in my role as a corporate executive I get an inquiry from a journalist I will assume that everything I say is fair game for publication. I would assume that an email from a customer, a random member of the public, or a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer would fall into the latter category.

    Robert, you are a gentleman to be asking Mark for his permission, but if you didn't know him already and he didn't respond to your permission request I don't think anyone could fault you for publishing his letter.

  33. In repsonse to our twitter convo, here is a more elaborate view that I have on this discussion.

    Let's take your points:

    1. Facebook is a great idea, one that I think Mark as well as all the users are hoping to have a long-term relationship with.
    2. Exactly what happened here. Facebook decided to make personal information public with an opt-out, not an opt in! So your personal information was suddenly made available to third parties through several ways. And you have to turn it off by going through quite some checkbox pages. And this one-sided decision to change what is public and what is private information is exactly why users are losing (more) trust in Facebook. If they don't cancel their account, they will start to think about how much real information about themselves they want to put on there. Which is always a negative for facebook in the long run.
    3. If the users wanted to make the information public, they would have chosen so through the settings. It should be opt-in, not opt-out!

    I completely understand that there has to be a way for facebook to make money, but give the users a choice and do not break their trust.

  34. Was the mail sent to a journalist or to a friend?
    It's hard for me to believe that these two celebrities wouldn't expect that the emails they sent to journalists would be published. Call me jaded, but I'd say they wrote them (emails to journalists, not to friends) counting on their being published.

  35. I didn't compare the two issues as much as the how the two CEO's are super careful with their words…and don't say much or tend to take too much responsibility. C'mon now…

  36. probably you treated Facebook like your personal e-mail (to breakup) & crying foul. Facebook cannot convince each & everyone of the billions of users they have. There will always be criticism & people like you quitting. Like I said, privacy issue is blown out of proportion & mistakes can happen. There is always scope for improvement & Facebook is on it. So, if you wan't to quit or make 5000 friends to quit…it doesn't really affect them to be frank. Their user base is only growing. No body can stop them.

    Regarding mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. don't you? Just watch, Facebook will shine one day & the critics will suddenly change their words…only the anti-facebook stay alone.

  37. I hope Facebook's “mistakes” are inclusive of at least some of these points:

    1. Privacy. Really, what else must be said?
    2. The stupidity of Community Pages (see this for an example of how creepy it is; until last week, that page had two fans and even some status updates).
    3. The pathetic approach Facebook takes toward businesses; my open letter addresses this to an extent. This predates f8 and the new changes, but some of the comments feature extremely valid concerns that arose from Community Pages.

    Whatever the case may be, if Facebook has made mistakes and wants to get things right, sitting on their asses and simply saying they're reading all the feedback isn't the way to do it. Responding is. In the meantime, we're 8 days away from May 31 and I'm hoping Facebook do the right thing before it's too late. Until recently, I was on Team Facebook. Now, I am hoping May 31 brings some serious change to the way Facebook runs things.

  38. No, I think he's right, Robert. Your email exchange with Zuckerberg came as a result of your personal and professional relationship with him, and you were right to hold off and clarify, explicitly because by not doing so could damage your relationship.

    The random emailer to Steve Jobs, having no relationship, and indeed an expectation that any response from such a public figure would be a prize worthy of sharing, isn't tied to any other relationship with Jobs, and in is a different classification. If Jobs wanted to establish a private relationship with the emailer, he could (or could try), but it's the relationship, and not the email per se, that establishes the provision of trust.

  39. Any email from a CEO of a company talking about that company that a journalist covers sent to the journalist should be considered public unless there is a prior arrangement that it is off the record (and even then I think it is somewhat suspect).

    I don't see how as a journalist you can be Mark's “friend” and also cover his company without bias.

    Do you count yourself as a journalist?

  40. The problem with Facebook has been that a lot of services that should have been “opt-in” have been made “opt-out”. The same analogy applies for e-mail also. Unless Zuck or Jobs opt to make their e-mail public, you can't assume that their email conversations are public.
    Good thought Robert.

  41. The problem with Facebook has been that a lot of services that should have been “opt-in” have been made “opt-out”. The same analogy applies for e-mail also. Unless Zuck or Jobs opt to make their e-mail public, you can't assume that their email conversations are public.
    Good thought Robert.

  42. I never understood why bloggers always feel it's fine to post steves emails. I'm hoping he writes me back sometime but I would never publish it, regardless of how juicy it might seem.

  43. Hypothetical question here: Let's say Zuckerburg replied with “No, you can't republish this. In fact, why would you mention to the general public that this e-mail conversation even exists?”

  44. Scoble,

    If a tech CEO writes you about “that hottie at the BigDataCo party last night” — well, yeah, that's wrong (talking about a women like that is wrong, and mentioning it here too…) After one month of intensive blog-slapping, having a stellar CEO who made his career on Breaking thinks [include link to his profile with public link to an eponymous Page here] and apologizing soon afterwards, having the guy come back and say: we are working on it, please submit your ideas, that's not just one-full-day-on-top-of-TechMeme-worthy blog post, that's “Guys, we need you to help with the mess”-worthy.

    Now that know they listen, I am tempted to pool in — well, if that post wasn't months-old already, I would be tempted to write it. If you missed it: make Friend-list-based filtering for every information (*including* Friends), every terminal including mobile and make is one-click-enabled (except for me who has sixty of such groups).

    Honestly, if it weren't you, I would have expected something closer to “what m*ron takes so long to send that e-mail?” but the timing actually seems right: just once the big non-geeky news start to make sense of the situation. God, this guy is good.

    I think there is a tremendous lesson in entrepreneurship to be learned from “I’d like to show an improved product rather than just talk about things we might do.” (if Facebook is worth anything in six months, which seems increasingly likely).

    Given the current situation, care is important, but I don't think that many CEOs have been unclear, or felt betrayed about company-related issue. Do you have any situation in mind? Honest mistakes, ambiguous leaks, friendly NDA that weren't respected?

    1. Why is it wrong to refer to a woman as a “hottie”? Keep your PC bullshit to yourself.

      1. Because we rather like being appreciated for more than our hotness.
        If we are hot, that is obviously why we got the job, not through anything known as competence.
        It has taken us years to be respected (and as a female tech in IT, it’s still a challenge at times).

        I have a sense of humor, but this is a bit like picking at an old wound for many of us, even if it isn’t meant to come off that way.

  45. Your care is certainly commendable in general — but that particular e-mail appears clearly to anyone as an exception. I'm surprised it doesn't look so to you, but that candor explains most of your success.

    Better safe than sorry, especially when you communicate with someone with excellent inbox hygiene.

  46. If only Facebook would show such consideration before making our private information public and then burying/removing the privacy settings for it. And in the interest of full disclosure, why not release the entire email thread? Why the secrecy if you really think the world will be a better place by being perfectly transparent about everything?

    Also, why are the profiles of most Facebook execs (Schrage, Sandberg, etc.) fairly locked down? They seem to be talking the talk about rolling back privacy to make the world a better, more transparent place, but when it comes to their own actual profiles, they aren’t walking the walk.

  47. I assume you've already got similar releases from all of your gchat contacts, to post a screenshot indicating whether they were online or not at 1:27pm today.

    1. Good point, Jon.

      Maybe Daniel Brusilovsky doesn’t want the world to know when he’s online.

      He’s still a minor, so there might be a law against disclosing this information to the world with or without his permission (http://danielbru.com/).

  48. Socble Mr Jobs is using the public's desire for missives form him ot do viral pr by respoding to an email that he will know will be made public..large difference between that your communication with the CEO of facebook..wake up!

  49. Robert,

    I disagree with you about a key element of the privacy concerns regarding sharing Zuckerberg's email.

    Specifically… I believe that when you're a blogger, especially one like yourself who regularly ventures into the news realm, it's contingent on the other person involved, when responding to anything “newsy”, to say “off the record…” or “anonymously speaking…” or “you didn't hear this from me, but…” , just like they might with a reporter.

    Also, when you look at privacy law, public, newsworthy figures are presumed to have fewer rights to privacy, especially if they are speaking in regards to their company. See http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Manuals%20Volume%2

    That, really, is why I find the Steve Jobs email exchange with Ryan Tate, a writer for Gawker, to be a non-issue. He responded back to an employee at a major online media site. In 2009, Gawker Media was estimated to be worth $300 million, with $60 million in advertising revenues and more than $30 million in operating profit. (http://247wallst.com/2009/11/10/the-twenty-five… )

    So really, it's not even a case where we're asking “Is blogging journalism” anymore. The numbers speak for themselves.

    The fact is, when you are the CEO of a major corporation, you need to be aware that you're a public figure. In my opinion, there is no way that Steve Jobs of all people couldn't or shouldn't be aware of that fact. It's another good reason why big businesses hire PR people.

    It's great and empowering for the public to hear directly from the CEOs… until they inevitably put their foot in it… at which point there's really no way for anyone else to undo whatever damage may have been done. Like politicians, the best CEOs find ways of appearing very frank, spontaneous, honest, and concerned about their customers… without going against message.

  50. Robert, I have one question for you to ask Mark – How many times are we going to see him repeat the same mistake and give the same answer as he always does and then go and repeat the mistake again?

    1. I didn’t either. When journalists have become cheerleaders for their tech idols, it becomes a sad and dangerous world indeed. I don’t GET how all these “journalists” have become bought, or are such ‘fanboys’ they lose any credibility.

  51. Perhaps I am reading it wrong but I think you are defeating your own point here.

    An e-mail, I believe, becomes your own property once you receive it. Yes it includes the thoughts of another private individual, but it is in YOUR personal inbox. It’s like if I receive a letter from someone and I make it public by printing it in a local newspaper. Yes my relationship is going to suffer and it may be unethical but what I am doing is certainly not breaching the other person’s privacy. If for example I send my girlfriend a very private e-mail and she reposts it our relationship will suffer and she would have breached my trust, but it isn’t the same as revealing my bank account details.

    I think email and IM (and the web in general) has taken away the thought we used to put behind what we said and did. Case in point is Zuckerburg’s IM exchange where he likened his users to “Dumb Fucks”. IM and e-mail ought to be treated as sending letters and once something is out of our hands we should not expect any privacy.

    What people are in uproar about over FB is the fact that in 2005 it started out tacitly stating that it would offer PRIVATE services. Instead it has breached what it said and the way it is going it could easily breach privacy laws. Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis, etc. are not angered that Zuckerburg has taken their private e-mails and reposted it, they are angry because he has taken what was essentially a private diary and slowly started sharing the contents of it to the web. Imagine if someone came into your house and started removing private documents.

    And finally, as a CEO his rights to privacy are at a completely different level to anyone else. Public servants ought to have the lowest level of privacy, so as to enable complete transparency and proper scrutiny of what they do (note Expenses Scandal in the UK). After that private executives in leading companies (being CEO of Facebook is like being President of the 3rd largest country in the world) should also be scrutinized to some degree. I’m not saying all his dirty laundry should be laid bare, but if he is a crook the users of that platform deserve to know it.

    1. So if there is no crime committed, then what? All of the emails he sends or receives should be published for all to see? No one can have privacy through the mail or email medium if that’s the case. Intent is considered even in a court of law. One individual could kill another: But the punishment would vary considerably over why the individual committed the act.

  52. I think you have to be careful about conflating your role as a journalist and your role as a friend. When you emailed Zuckerberg were you doing it as a journalist or as a friend? If you were doing it as a journalist then you should not be in the business of handing authority to your interviewees over what you, as a journalist, put in your piece. That is a dereliction of your responsibilities as a journalist (and had you been writing for me, we would be having a conversation “without coffee”)
    If, however, you emailed him as a friend, then what kind of friend even requests putting their private correspondence into the public realm.
    I think, if you consider yourself a journalist, that you have to be very clear about your role. It seems to me that your action belies a little bit of misunderstanding.
    Your first – and over-riding – duty is to your reader, not to your friendship with Mr Zuckerburg. You have that relationship, in part at least, because of your role – so in a very real sense you are corresponding on behalf of your readers. However, in this case you seem to have put your friendship with Mr Zuckerburg ahead of your duties as a journalist.
    As it turns out, there was nothing of any import in his reply and no harm was done. Mr Zuckerburg didn’t really say anything of any significance (we made some mistakes, we are doing something about it. Standard CEO flak catching).
    But I think it highlights the pitfalls of journalists having social and professional relationships with the people about whom they right. The journalist must be very clear – as must their subject – in where the professional and personal boundaries lie.
    I am not sure in this case you were all that clear and it is the reader who ultimately suffers.

    1. I think OldHack makes a very good point here. Keeping friendship and journalistic personnas separate is a very good idea. The problem does start when these lines are blurred.

  53. While I agree with much of the recent criticism levied toward Facebook, shouldn't internet users take more responsibility for what they are sharing online? I see private information being shared not only on Facebook but other social networks, forums, guest books, blogs, etc. As the popularity of social media continues to increase so does complacency in protecting our personal information. Facebook should be criticized for sharing users' personal information. But these privacy concerns are much bigger than one social network.

  54. If only Facebook would show such consideration before making our private information public and then burying/removing the privacy settings for it. And in the interest of full disclosure, why not release the entire email thread? Why the secrecy if you really think the world will be a better place by being perfectly transparent about everything?

    Also, why are the profiles of most Facebook execs (Schrage, Sandberg, etc.) fairly locked down? They seem to be talking the talk about rolling back privacy to make the world a better, more transparent place, but when it comes to their own actual profiles, they aren't walking the walk.

  55. It may be that I'm a bit too naive but reading the comments here I realise that what to me is crystal clear is not so to many others. A media person does not have permission to publicly publish any content he gets in private without a specific permission to do so – off the record unless stated otherwise, if you will.
    To me the fact that you kept this post in its entirety even after you got Mark's permission suggests that the point you were trying to make wasn't the content in Mark's email at all (that's an added bonus). The point was the ethic code media people should be following and have lately not only been breaking, but actually priding themselves in doing so. Sad that this is what we've come to.

  56. Should using company email vs personal make a difference in terms of the expectation of privacy? Could sending mail from one vs another be how you signal others of your expectations?

  57. Scoble, I'm STILL not sure the phrase “thow under the bus” means what you think it means.

    1. Scobie, it’s not necessary to shoot you for writing tepid prose. What I can’t believe, though, is that Zuck has any friends over the age of 25. You know the rule of 20-somethings: Don’t trust anyone over the age of 30; they’re old and in the way.

  58. Steve Jobs knows what he is doing. Things does´nt just happen. He knows when to awnser what and to whom to get things out in the public. I think he is well aware of who his real friends are that will keep the privacy.

  59. There are 2-3 points under discussion and my humble thoughts on the same:

    1) What Tate did by making Steve's email public without permission is correct or not.
    Legally: Yes it's fine if he did that, as many of the people above have mentioned that.
    Ethically: No, it's not fine to make an email or IM conversation public, not just you are sabotaging your own reputation, but also, shows how desperation on getting your content read.

    2) Facebook's privacy story – Yes, many people commit business errors, FB did with its privacy policy. People all across the web reprimanded them, may be that's the only way FB learns because they openly changed your privacy without asking you. Have they learnt from previous mistakes? Not sure, as they repeatedly commit similar mistakes. WIll this time be the last time? May be yes, its a huge backlash they have got this time.

    3) What Robert did is arguing for is right or wrong… Legally and Ethically – correct. It just increases the respect he commands. And the people who are arguing on the fact whether a Public figure like Steve should do something like this or not…and if he does, then he should be ready, yes, he should face the music… but the ethical dilemma Ryan faces after this??

  60. Go ahead Robert.You're doing the right thing for all of us-FB users.The rest is bla bla-which is being going on for month.
    Seems to me,that Zuckerberg has evaluated your approaches-on the privacy issue, helpfull,and worth to listen.This is because you're trustable proven past on the industry .
    As you said above, ” If something should be discussed in public, then let's take it into public view and discuss it there “.

    Why not? FB privacy is a concern for all users.We-the avarage users have right to know what's going on,and how it will be solved.

    Keep up the good work Robert.And thank you for sharing the info with us.

    Best Regards

  61. Man, I wish I had a yes man like you.

    “perfectly fine” “it shows facebook's concern for each and every user”!?

    …SAY WHAT!?

    I was one of the members of Leo's chatroom who was posting the link on how to delete your facebook, and yet it's deleted. I've checked my profile three times now. It's been deleted..yet, according to Scoble's post (others talking, of course), they have “pages” of criticism about facebook. So then they delete one post about why my page will be deleted?

    But everything's “perfectly fine” and “shows Facebook's concern for each & every user”

    How much is Zuckerberg paying you?

  62. The comparison here is a faulty one. You are saying that recipients who share private emails from senders in a public forum have no right to complain about Facebook doing the same thing. However, Facebook is not doing the same thing. Facebook’s privacy missteps have nothing to do with who is doing the sending and receiving. Facebook is the facilitator, not the recipient. If email is to be your analogy, then we have to look at the service providers, not the end users. If said journalists had gotten wind of Gmail or Yahoo or Hotmail airing the dirty laundry of its senders, then, yes, I do believe many would be incensed, in much the same way they have been over Facebook’s maze of privacy foibles. The end user’s respect of privacy is a different story altogether. If journalists get their hands on an email (directly or indirectly), then the facilitator cannot be blamed for the repercussions, unless the facilitator itself handed over that info. In the email examples you have mentioned, the facilitator is not to blame — but Facebook IS the problem when it comes to its flaws. SHOULD journalists be printing emails from CEO’s without their express permission? It’s a good question, but it has little to do with the concerns being raised in regards to Facebook, and it hardly makes these journalists hypocrites (unless they themselves are running a multi-billion member email network from which they harvested said emails, and somehow I doubt that’s the case).

  63. Good for you, sir. Taking a stand in this ethical swamp is about the only way to go forward and start making sense out of what to do.

    Delete your Facebook? Childish.

    Speak up and have the thing work better? Thank you for being an adult.

  64. Good call Robert on waiting to post until Mark Zuckerberg had OK’d it going public. There is such a thing as ‘off the record’ or asking a that anything said be held off for a time. I am glad that Mark OK’d you publishing this.

    Personally, I already deactivated my account and don’t intend to reactivate it unless more is done about security on Facebook AND privacy settings not only becoming simpler but privacy is once again by default as Mark Zuckerberg promised originally to get folks to use their service instead of the public by default service that MySpace was at the time.

    I sure hope Mark doesn’t disappoint his users this time. It has been a difficult time for many of us. I want to be able to get back on Facebook and visit with friends and family again.

  65. Are you really equivocating _a person_ sharing -without express authorization- an email from a CEO writing on behalf of his company, with _a company_sharing the profile data of 400+ million users without their express authorization?

    Either way, it seems like asking first is the best way to go -particularly if you're a company trying to share 400 million users' data. (Hence, the need for Mark to send you this email in the first place.)

  66. Robert, you are on target for asking Mark’s permission for you to publish the email string. If you do, or do not, know him personally, your approach was a class act. We need more class and less crass.

    What a senior executive or CEO anticipates as a private email exchange, just between us, or off the record is an interesting conversation. Ask 40 people their opinion and you will get 75 different answers with another 55 “it depends”.

    The CEO should be prepared for the worst. In your example, it is good to have someon as an example of how to move a conversation from private to public along with the point that your reputation with your other friends can suffer based on your public actions wth Mark’s conversation.

    My 3rd ex-wife taught me to be prepared for the worst. Ouch!


  67. Sources of news is broader now than ever. Obviously all reporters want to (and do) use all their sources. Those that can do it and still respect the privacy of their sources regardless of the sources notoriety will stand out from the pack.

  68. @Norman Rogers : Thank you for being reasonable,prudent,courageous,and proper in your comment.
    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
    To Win:”Good people are obliged to be courageous more than the bad people.”
    Ismet Inonu-Second President of The Turkish Republic
    Best Wishes

  69. Mark can talk all he wants about wanting to do better, but until he and the Facebook team stop willingly throwing members in front of their experiments as they try to ‘hit the mark’, they’ll keep making enemies. He can apologize until the sun goes down, but I’m done with Facebook and see no hope for remediation. A relationship can tolerate only so much abuse, and Facebook went over the line.

  70. Scobleizer-
    this email example is an inaccurate analogy. in this situation FB is the email server admin, and changed your email settings to make your email data PUBLIC. everybody knows once something is emailed it can be made public, but you don't want the hotmail admin to be the one you have to watch out for. This email conversation stuff makes no sense.

  71. Kudos Robert,
    Just because FaceBook doesn't respect people's privacy doesn't mean you shouldn't.
    Good Call..
    (unlike the non-credible Arrington who will publish anything, twitter docas from publishers, whack seo articles, etc..)

  72. I have no idea how I came to this site/blog/whatever. Scobe doesn’t seem to understand his relationship with Boy-lucky Mark. Scobe things they are friends and obviously Mark sees him as an easy PR outlet. The way that email was written Mark knew full well that it would be posted (permission not needed) and it would seem that his internal emails were “leaked”, truly showing his concern for his minions…so transparent, high-schoolish and obvious

  73. With all of the discussion and concern, the bottom-line is trust and integrity. If FB & all of us just follow those 10 little laws namely # 8 & 9 we'd all be ok.

    # 8 – You shall not steal.

    # 9 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

    Sorry, but, I think its that simple. No technical discussion needed IMHO.


  74. I suggest everyone read Lee Siegels book – Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob.

    Everything you need to know about social sites is clearly written within those pages. Social sites were created so companies could make money off you during your down time. If companies could advertise to you in your sleep they would. There is no end to corporate greed and imagination.

    Thanks for the P.R release on this email. You couldnt be circle jerking this guy more. Your credibility and concern goes out the window the minute you state its for a CEO who just sold 400 millions peoples personal information without flinching. You dont but the crap he is trying to sell you, but you have no problem pitching it to us. You sold your integrity to name drop a kid. Honorable stuff dude.

  75. From what I read Zuckerman has:
    1. Cheated/misled his collage colleagues out of the business
    2. Boasted in private that his members are stupid to trust him
    3. Implemented numerous sharing policies without user permission
    4. Purposefully implemented option as default and made control difficult
    5. Cancelled discussion groups on FB that sought to galvanize awareness of the issues
    6. Use members as unpaid spokespersons for FB business clients
    7. Lay ownership claims to member data submitted to the network
    8. Headed a company voted by privacy organizations as being a big violator of privacy
    9. Hired a rubberstamp security agency (with a board composed of ad agency insiders) to endorse his PR which only addressed a subset of the complaints/issues.
    10. He just launched a platform that makes it even easier for companies to get FB member’s data when they use the web.
    Is there a pattern of deceit here? Worse, after most of these incidences he is quick to the “mea culpa” – but whatever really changes?

  76. Or there's the other question – when do you use your friends to link-bait a non-entity blog post?

    There's absolutely nothing in the email that is earth-shattering, so not sure why such the hoo-ha about it all…

  77. Reminds me of the horrible joke and the punchline is “Trust me.” Why is this not the least bit surprising coming from Zuckerberg? What a godforsaken slime bag.

  78. So much would be easier if we could just shoot from the hip without asking. Think of how many awesome, entertaining and insightful stories could be written if we published off-the-record comments? With a friend (a real one), I think we have to assume we're off the record and confirm what we can run. Without this step, the risks are huge: You could lose a professional contact. You could lose a friend. You risk your reputation with other sources. You risk your reputation with your readers (with the shitstorm that follows a breach of trust). Props to Scoble for taking the obviously simple and fast step to confirm.

  79. Facebook: I am disappointed in how easy it is for a FB account to be compromised. I am on FB for the connection I keep with friends and family. As a victim of hackers and a very nasty virus I am still managing damage control. I would delete my account but I feel like waiting for the hacking to end. I do this so that my reputation can be maintained and a machine/virus/hacker can’t spoil the purpose of social network.

  80. I find it ironic that you are protecting his privacy by giving him the option to “opt-in” while he is busy torpedoing our privacy by giving us the option to “opt-out” or no option at all.

  81. Facebook: I am disappointed that Facebook accounts are so easily compromised. While hackers are sending out viruses via machines, it is people who are affected most. I am on Facebook so that I can stay connected with friends and family. I have been hacked, sent a virus and there are horrible messages being sent out to my friends as a result. My personal reputation is more important than a FB account. If I wait this out, will I regain trust and respect?

  82. Never was on FAKEBOOK demeans the quality of the word FRIEND…amongst other things,, they NEVER cared about privacy…Another DOT CON

  83. “What do you think of Zuckerberg's letter? Does he sound sincere to you? Willing to give Facebook and its upcoming privacy reboot the benefit of the doubt? Or are you ready to jump ship for good?”

    Please tell us what you think [FOR FREE!] so we can sell that user information to advertisers [FO
    R A PROFIT]. Social networks make billionaires out of dweebs who are only to happy to pass every bit of your information on to advertisers etc. Why would I want to post everything about me on the internet so every person on the planet can have access to it to do who knows what with it? Didn't they write a book about this [George Orwell's 1984] or more recently make a movie [The Matrix]? If I want my FRIENDS to know what I'm having for breakfast right now, I can pick up some ancient technology called the Cell Phone.

  84. I guess this is where the “friends” of FB execs who happen to be bloggers all suddenly start coming out with coincedental blog posts about how noone should really want their privacy anyways.

  85. There is no privacy issue here. Jobs (if that’s who is writing the emails, I wonder) knows precisely what he’s doing, and assumes any fan email he responds to will go public.

  86. There is a major difference between making Joe Schomoe’s e-mails to someone public and making Mark Zuckerman’s e-mails public. Besides the fact that Joe Schmoe is someone who does not exist in real life, in the example I’m making, Joe Schmoe is likely only known by his family, his friends and his co-workers. Thus, he falls under standards of privacy that many of us journalists talk about.

    However, Mark Zuckerberg is a public figure. Like him, hate him, think he’s goofy looking, he’s someone people know. Either they know him by name or they know who he is. Thus, he falls under a much different level of privacy protection. It’d be the same deal if Steve Jobs sent an e-mail. If he says something newsworthy, the burden is on him to tell you in the e-mail that he doesn’t want it disseminated.

    I realize that Zuckerberg gave you permission to post the e-mail. I also appreciate the fact that you’re trying to be fair and that you’re trying to cultivate a long-term friendship with him. However, the intense debate about privacy is one that would make his comments about Facebook’s issues with privacy controls germane to discussion, regardless of forum.

    I would also be curious to see Zuckerberg directly address that infamous thread where he bragged about getting private information from a whole lot of people. Yes, I know he was 19 then and is 25 now. But with him having to backpedal and explain himself on privacy, that post is looking more and more ill-considered by the day.

  87. In reference to Scoble's, “An email is implicitly TO YOU and NOT to “the public.”, don't forget that Facebook used to be TO YOUR FRIENDS and NOT to “the public”. Why would you be concerned about the Mark's privacy when he obviously isn't concerned about anyone's privacy, much less yours?

  88. Robert I’m familiar with your work but it seems to me you threw Leo, Jason and others under the bus for being concerned about FB’s lack of concern for privacy. I’d think you would be concerned for the privacy of the people that follow you and not FBs Zuck.

  89. I think this was a funny email over which to have an internal debate about the ethics of publishing friends' emails. It's basically a press release. Facebook is in the midst of a pretty big PR crisis — if the company was public, Zuckerberg's net worth would have dropped $300 million last week in the time it takes someone to write the words “dumb f**cks” — and they need to get the word out about their earnestness. I can see why you'd write back to Zuckerberg confirming that you can publish it, but I don't understand the hand-wringing. If you do want to be his friend you'll be able to tell what communication from him is in his capacity as the face of facebook.

    PS: Can you reply with his personal email address? I'd like to let him know he's no Steve Jobs, so can stop trying to imitate the big guy with his little hoodie “uniform”. Thanks!

  90. Don't you think though that this is the sort of conversation that happens in private, instead of “Hey guys, Mark Zuckerberg sent me an email; I'll let you know later if I can share it!”

  91. Exactly. I think Scoble should have sent Zuckerberg an email stating there has been a change in his email policy:

    “Mark, I'm doing some things with my email account that you will be VERY impressed with. Don't worry, if you head to Scobleizer.com, there's some privacy settings somewhere on the page, or maybe 4-5 pages deep, where you can have very granular control over how your email to me is handled. I know, it used to be assumed that email was a private thing, but the world is changing. If you haven't already explicitly told me how to handle your email, I'll just assume you mean that you want anyone to be able to read it because that's just how things are now. So, I'm going to post this and all other emails to my blog until you setup your privacy settings. How can I not? It's all about selling personal information for page views and money, just like you do. – Scoble”.

  92. Hi Robert, I never heard of your blog until a few minutes ago, but you have my respect for wanting to do the decent and smart thing by not being a dweeb and compromising your relationship with Mark.

    I recently started the “Facebook Sold Out” campaign in response to their latest atrocity involving removing the choice to make a welcome tab the landing page for fan pages. Lots of small and medium sized business were going to hurt badly from that one. I was all set to follow up with another missive when they did backtrack, after everyone's combined voices raised enough of a fuss. I have to guess thousands of people spoke up and were heard, since so many high profile people spoke up and notified people on their lists.

    That change of policy, albeit clumsy, gave me hope again for Facebook. I've been on there for nearly 5 years (started in college) and the apparent spirit and intent of it has changed so much it's grieved me.

    But even if I were any kind of friend of Zuckerberg's, heck, even a distant connection, I wouldn't squander my relationship on breaking this story and in so doing, a relationship where important perspectives and information are shared.

    Well said and well done, Robert. For what it's worth, I'm subscribing!

  93. Robert – I think you should offer Zuckerberg to become his official publicist and get paid for it. That way at least you might get paid handsomely for acting as FB's online billboard.

  94. OK, let’s excuse my poor bad english (i’m a froggy-french).

    It is just OBVIOUS Scobleiser is avoiding the real discussion and i’m suprised he is persisting in is mail-privacy-analogy sophism.

    DEAR SCOBLEIZER, the point is not that much about privacy infos, than about the fact that your sweetie friend mr.Zuckerberg has set different rule DURING the game.

    And the fact that he is doing his mea culpa (apologies for thoses not speaking latin) to you or Donald Graham’ newspap’, meaning to a friend and to an administrator of FB is even more shameful. PUBLIC is the one who have been swindled, so if this mail to you was really private it’s really too bad.

  95. I don’t believe for a moment these were Facebook “mistakes.” They were part of a profit driven strategic business plan. If they were “mistakes” at all they were ethical ones. Mr Zuckerberg’s recent testimony before Congress on privacy where he stated that American’s don’t value privacy and want more and more of their information made public proves he either grossly misses the mark on personal privacy or that he will say anything to increase his personal wealth and influence. Either of these are reasons not to trust Mr. Zuckerberg and any endeavor he is connected with.

    Unfortunately, despite the crocodile tears of “remorse” the fact remains that thousands of people’s personal and financial information is in the hands of multiple companies they never intended to have it with no options to have it removed.

  96. haha. thats what am saying. You people are over-reacting. Media makes news. People make gossips.

    Regarding your deleted page / whatever, ask Facebook support & check their privacy policy. I hope you haven't done anything wrong. In that case, your page can be restored. Don't cry foul for every little thing as if the world is perfect place to live in.

  97. Robert, your friend writes to you like the people who write his press releases and the way he writes a response for the Washington Post. Seems like you guys have a very formal friendship, kinda like a company CEO has w/the press ;)

  98. Absolutely agree with you Robert Scoble!

    @Robert Scoble: you are a nice person, a real gentleman being a true friend not a traitor and you obviously would have gained much high respect after this expression and others of yours for your real noble virtues!

  99. I never said it was perfect.

    And my page is still there; just the comments were deleted. Why would Facebook delete my little comments–me, a common schmuck–if they have “thousands” of pages/groups criticizing them is my point.

    If they had thousands of pages/groups that criticize them why would two comments made within six hours of each other matter? Obviously, facebook doesn't want people knowing how to delete their accounts but what can ya do against Big Brother to be honest.

  100. Robert, Mark could learn a great deal from you and how you handle information regardless of who it originated from. Regarding content, I think every word Mark writes be it to his family or total strangers will be very carefully worded right now.

    What would I do if Mark had emailed me? I suppose I would reciprocate the same respect for his written word as he has mine. As he and Elliott Schrage continue to deny that personal details have been given to advertisers, when we know they have, my trust in Facebook has been stripped away like the privacy settings. He has said he would give members an easier way to opt-out, when he knows full well his members don't want to have to opt-out in the first place but have been screaming for opt-in. This shows disregard for member requests, Senators requests, Privacy Commissioners requests, and indifference at the mounting class action suits.

    We are not idiots. We know he has to make a choice. Facebook's value when floated could be affected by millions of dollars if he gives members the privacy they want and less to the advertsers, or if the members quit. Either way he needs keep one side of the bed warm, and I fear he will stay snuggled up with the advertisers. Mark says he understands members want to control what they share. So why did he remove the news feed and wall privacy settings he implemented in 2006 with a hasty apology and an open letter? We also know that this is a public webspace owned by a total stranger. Most people don't post content that would harm them irreversibly. But you see, that's not the point is it?

    He says Facebook never share data with anyone we don't want. Why then do they set privacy settings back to a default of show everyone in the dead of night when the upload their new settings? Unless I click on my privacy settings EVERY time I log in, how do I know I'm not sharing data with people I don't want. If I spend the time to go through each of the 170 privacy setting options, I don't want to wonder if Facebook have changed them without my consent.

    What surprises me most is Mark Zuckerberg's surprise over the outcry. If a company does a complete U-turn on it's privacy ethic after amassing over 400 million members with it, why should they be surprised if they don't all agree with his born-again privacy is dead attitude? If you change your ideals and company code, the demographic you targeted may not follow you. Friendster…Myspace… Members are not loyal to social networks and he will not be loyal to them.

    Now we find that any information box not used is taken away. So if we don't play Mark's game by allowing our information to be replaced by page suggestions, we don't get to play at all. I commented on a friends post requesting settings help. My reply had the word privacy in it 3 times. A pop-up box warned me I couldn't submit it as facebook doesn't allow chain letters. Funny, all I see plastered over groups and pages are spam… Don't you just wish the technology would work on the right thing? I took the words privacy out and wouldn't you know it posted straight away.

    What do we want?

    We want to be notified immediately if a glitch means that members information could be left vulnerable. He has the perfect way to do so – the notification function.

    We want control over the newsfeeds put back in place. If we comment on one friends thread, we don't want the rest to immediately know. We don't do this in person. If we talk to one group of people, a spokesperson doesn't grab a chair and put fork to glass to state the conversation to the other groups.

    We don't want to have to worry that our privacy controls will be tampered with.

    We don't want to ever be automatically opted-in to share data with advertisers or 3rd party sites. A pop-up box explaining a new data sharing programme with a yes or no button, and directions on where to find this question again should we wish to change our minds would be a simple and effective way to for members to be given the opportunity to make a decision. Most people don't even know where to find the opt-out section, and if they do they find out that their friends could just share the data anyway.

    We want Only Friends to mean just that. Not only friends until one of them comments on it and then their friends can see it too.

    We want the ability to hide our comments to groups and pages from newsfeeds. Most people join a group or page because they wish to meet new people, discuss topics that most of their own friends may not share enthusiasm for. Some people join pages for support. The news that a man was beaten severeley when pages went public because he had joined a gay support page and facebook policy was that his friends need never know about it was one of thousands of terrible stories that came out when the newsfeed privacy settings were removed, and again user settings defaulted to everyone.

    We don't want a repeat of the March 27 update email (which doesn't prompt notification upon arrival and most members don't even realise they have an update folder), where you had to become a fan of Facebook's site governance fan page in order to comment on a specific document tab after reading pages of litigious material, knowing full well that even if Facebook gets its 7000 comments in the right place, a vote of no confidence is impossible because they want 33% of active members to vote against changes. We all know that the near 500 million membership number is bloated from face accounts. It was an impossible target and Mark must have laughed every time a new member pointlessly tapped away their disapproval of the new policy proposals. Oh, and now Facebook will no longer inform all members of future changes because the only way members can be kept updated is to become a fan of his site governance page and read any new proposals there.

    In other words, we want Facebook to really think about what sharing all that data built up behind walls of privacy settings, could mean if they were torn down. We want a safe, fun place where if given the choice we will probably share most of the data we upload anyway. But it will be our choice. Facebook is a great idea and can be a fantastic place to be. But I just hate the uncertainty and distrust of the next move. Its like you tell someone something in confidence and realise someone overheard. The heart-sinking feeling of no control, wondering if that person will keep your confidence. You don't want to leave the area in case the whispering starts as soon as you go…

    Thankfully Robert you have restored my faith that some people know that the age of privacy isn't quite over just yet. Yes we might choose to let someone share what we say, but we'd like to be asked first.

    1. Google’s business model is similar to Facebook’s in that it’s primary profit stream is based on advertising dollars. However, Google can do this without delivering my data to advertisers — rather the advertisers are delivered to me, based on my data. I find it very hard to believe that Facebook can’t be profitable without handing out my info willy-nilly. If people felt their data was more secure, they’d share more. Mark believes the opposite is the case. He has argued that by making info less private, people will begin to share more. This just isn’t true. People will be more guarded, and FB’s advertising algorithms will be less successful for it. I’ve removed every bit of personal info about my likes and dislikes from movies to TV to political affiliations and faith practices for just this reason. This makes it harder for FB to capitalize on my interests. Better privacy, if implemented thoughtfully, will improve their business model, not hamper it. They really have no excuse, which makes me wonder about their deeper motives…

  101. The solution to both the Facebook and email issues are something privacy freaks have advocated for a long time.

    If you don’t want it spread around, either to the web or even another individual, don’t say or post it. I’m part of the dying breed of not wanting to put exhaustive personal information out into the ether.

    As far as comparing the privacy between email and Facebook, I think a more appropriate comparison would be if we as users had the opportunity to share Mark’s address, cell phone, birthdate, groups of people he likes to hang out with, schools he went to, children’s pictures, hobbies, things he likes to read or listen to, pet names, family names and anything else he specifically didn’t want shared with the world and see what kind of integrity we’d have if someone waved money in our faces to do so.

    Emails generally don’t have this quantity of information to air out. While I agree asking for permission is the right thing to do, most of the time exposure of a single email is not nearly as catastrophic.

    Unless you’re ripping the public off and being brought before a judge, of course. :)

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  103. Matt, you and I share this same view: “Privacy is not only essential to life and liberty; it’s essential to the pursuit of happiness, in the broadest and deepest sense of that phrase. It’s essential to the development of individuality, of unique personality. We human beings are not just social creatures; we’re also private creatures. What we don’t share is as important as what we do share.”

    You have to applaud Mark Zuckerberg. He is smart, entrepreneurial, grasps opportunities and makes the best of them. But he launched Facebook to the success it is through not entirely noble means. And has repeated that pattern. He plays nicely with others until he can capitalize on what they can provide and then we’re all left in a daze. He has created this global network and enticed people to depart more and more information, and because we as people are a lonely race, we clamber for the opportunity to connect with others. Yes we want to share more because we have the means to. But we still want to decide who we play with. Unfortunately the playground is in someone else’s house and you’re playing with their toys. Right now I feel I’ve only been invited to the party so that I can bring another present, and if it’s not up to standard I have to sit in the corner.

    Robert did the entirely noble and fundamentally good thing here. He cares how his character is portrayed through his actions. Trust is an enormous part of any connection. And that is where Mark could improve so that his global creation remains number one. We are a group made up of intelligent people. We understand that this is a social network site, we know it has to be paid for, we know the advertisers want more, we know that if we’re told that our personal details aren’t shared to advertisers it may be that they are shared to 3rd party who then takes it to the advertiser, because somehow they are getting them. We know glitches occur because maintenance and software updates take place while the servers are online. We know that any data uploaded to someone else’s website is at our own risk. We know the law does not protect people’s online data…yet. We know that if we don’t play Facebook’s game, we will have certain toys taken away. Right now, if you leave info boxes blank and deny the opportunity for page suggestions and other connections such as employment, they get taken off you. People moved data to Bio to avoid the same scenario, Bio went public for a week…

    This next set of changes needs to be totally on the level. Changing people’s settings to show ‘Everyone’ while they sleep, removing the most fundamental control function for privacy that was installed because of member outcry – the News Feed and Wall Privacy settings. Very bad. Reinstalling those settings would go a long way to showing that Mark really does understand what we want as he claims.

    We love his product. It has proved hugely successful in its potential and power. Mark, please do not treat us like idiots anymore. If you need to make a change for financial foothold, do it honestly. We know how the world turns. Then give us the means in less than 170 options to decide how we want to proceed. Don’t allow our friends to share our data. If a glitch exposes data it shouldn’t get a notification out to all members so they can protect themselves. Get users consent to be tagged in a photo (notification of a tag request – yes or no). Inform all members of changes with a proper email or one that provides a notification. And have someone who can translate litigious jargon into something that all can understand – a precise, simple, NON condescending explanation of the changes. Treat us like an equal and we’ll feel far more at ease in your playground. You’ve a great idea and we would rather wait another month for you to totally get what your members would like, and find a solution that benefits all, than try to rush together a set of changes pulled from the crisis meeting table. As long as we know that you’re working at it, you’ll get marks for effort. Do as Robert has done. Ask first. You will begin to regain trust and hold onto far more members when the rivals go online if you just realize we understand more than you think. You’ve so much to be proud of, do it with integrity.
    Thank you so much Mr Scoble, you have provided a rare and interesting vantage point, and shown what friendship and connections are really all about.

  104. Why not just hang a for sale sign on your neck?

    RS’ opinion: for sale? RS’ words: for sale?

    Have you even seen:
    The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook

    So yeah, nice shilling for your “friend”.

    That’s why MZ is a sack of excrement – actually a danger to free, private society. Somebody should be proactive in his case since history has show us countless times what happens when one is not.

    PS, who is rackspace and what part of your moral fibre did they buy? ‘Tween MZ & RS do you have any moral left which *you* still own?

    Thx for reminding me why I ignored you for the last 5 yrs. Maybe I’ll see if you’re any wiser or more ethical in 5 more.

  105. Two of your reasons for not disclosing Zuckerberg's e-mail immediately are also reasons why I think Facebook should not have taken privately shared profile information and made it public.

  106. Your comparison in this article is fallacious. Jobs and Zuckerberg are, for all practical purposes, public figures. People aren't outing their private, personal emails, they're outing their emails about widespread issues that millions of people are involved in.

  107. To be comic, with great power comes great responsibility. Zuckerberg, and other comedia powers, have an accountability to the public in regards to the systems that they control which impact the social networks that operate within their defined rulesets. If you were reporting intimate information that had no relation to the public sphere, such as, as a hypothetical example, his difficulties digesting seafood, then, being that it had no impact on the public sphere, then your argument would be more sound.

    Being that I consider you intelligent enough to recognize these differences in privacy in relation to degrees of power, but choosing to ignore them, I have doubts about your integrity. While, I respect your attempts to save “industry face,” I am concerned about your ability to represent consumer interest. I would ask you to be transparent about what your bottom line is, so we can know whether you are trustworthy or not.

    Right now, from my perspective, you are showing up as very sketchy.

  108. After reading your replies,I change my mind about my earlier post. I no longer thing you are lacking integrity. Now, I think, unfortunately, that you may be a fool when it comes to both context and journalism. Still, this means, to me, that you are not to be trusted on subjects such as privacy, which, is completely dependent on context and expectation.

    The context, of, for example, journalism, is completely different than pillow talk. Do you you really not understand this. I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but your responses are making a task for me.

  109. I expect more from you Scoble, do you now work for facebook too?Please think what ever you want about privacy but do NOT attack me or anyone who cares about his privacy. You are blogger,your life is: public,you want everyone to know about you,to see what you share,where are you,what you eat and I really respect that.I am geek,programmer and engineer but I care about my data and dont like what facebook do with it.
    What you and Mark are talking about is money,money,money. I know it very well. Please stop talking to ppl BS about 'good,not evil companies'. There is no that BS in “company” world. It's just PR and if you don't get it then you should leave your job for few months and go to sea without iphone,android,ipad or anything and then come back. Because you are too deep in this ” tech world” and you lost your “moral boundaries” you dont know how regular guy from the street feels when someone doesn't allow him to control things he should control. And,please, don't. …. I know your answer. No, really,dont.

  110. If you want to be private what the heck are you doing putting your data on someone else's service? It's a free service. If you want to be private stay the hell off and host all your data on servers and machines YOU control!