What’s Zuckerberg’s Word Worth?

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mark zuck

ADOTAS – Remember when Facebook was purely a fun way to get in touch with old friends, acquaintances, or people you didn’t know you knew? Then all of a sudden an online class reunion of sorts became a free-range for advertisers. Users have been pissed ever since. Privacy has been an issue for industry insiders for a very long time, but now even more users are concerned by the actions of the popular social networking site.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued an apology through an article he wrote in The Washington Post, addressing the intentions of the site and the concerns of members and what they planned to do moving forward. This comes however, on the heels of a controversial discovery that Facebook has been giving advertisers the names and ages of people who click on their ads. Which also comes after a remembered failed first attempt at implementing advertising. The question becomes: how many chances does Facebook get? Does sharing your information online mean you’re looking to be inundated with ads that are only truly relevant to you 50% of the time? And even though Zuckerberg says “If we give people control over what they share, they will want to share more,” is that still true when your information is being used against you in a sense? When will “being social” just be allowed to be a social action first as opposed to a marketing action? Where is the balance?

2 COMMENTS

  1. There is nothing worse than being beholden to a product or service you don’t trust, but need in order to fit into your lifestyle choices. Operational mistakes in technology driven-businesses are somewhat expected and for the most part accepted if the public thinks you are genuine and honest at your core. AOL’s access crisis in ’96 was horrible for their customers, but no one really felt that Steve Case was trying to screw people, and in fact he worked hard to remind his members about all they were doing to make the experience better. Having worked there in the late ’90s amid torrid growth, you really had the sense that the company was trying to do the right thing for its members…sure we were making big money, but we were really focused on our members. Google certainly hasn’t been perfect and either has Microsoft. There is with those organizations, as well though, a sense that they really care about getting it right for their customers.
    Do people really feel that way about Facebook, and in particular, this guy? Having read the insulting memo he wrote in college about the functionality still at the core of his service, and having experienced their numerous blunders the area of privacy, I just don’t get the sense at their core, that they just want to do the right thing.
    Like companies before them, they’ll enjoy this period of forgiveness based on the lack of a suitable alternative…but their demise in the face of better choices for consumers could be far faster than AOL’s in the face of broadband distribution.

  2. Very rare are the organizations that “want” to do the right thing by their users. It is more accurate to say that companies have an obligation to treat their users fairly in order to maintain their customers (and thereby revenue) for fear of poor policy causing attrition.

    Those organizations that have loyal user bases (or those more “beholden” to them for whatever reason) have much more leeway in how they treat their users for a certain period of time. It is the organizations that quickly recognize negative trends and adjust their policies appropriately that survive.

    Leadership creates a culture of customer service within their organizations not out of some moral obligation, but because it helps the bottom line. Zuckerberg is a shrewd man and is a very extreme example of this theory – do the minimum to maintain your user base while maximizing revenue. Time will tell he will respond quickly and appropriately enough to prevent a meltdown.

    Now if only folks like AEF would be commissioned to write these kinds of “articles” rather than someone throwing idle rhetorical questions onto a page to sell ad space. Very good thoughts AEF.

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