Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Love–and Being a CEO–Means Always Having to Say You're Sorry


So, Mark Zuckerberg apologized.

Yes, he took too long to do it. Yes, he was dumb to release a product, Beacon, without thinking through the potential privacy implications. Yes, it was a big black eye for the Facebook founder.

But good for him.

While some are arguing that no one but the press and privacy advocates cared about the whole controversy around the ad system that can track your purchases on some external sites and send the information back to your Facebook profile’s news feed, it was only bound to get uglier out there.

So Zuckerberg, as he had before on news feeds, correctly calculated that it was time to eat crow. “I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better,” he wrote in a blog post today on the topic.

We knew that was coming, didn’t we?

Indeed, there was no benefit in staying stubborn about the feature that might not even be the be-all-and-end-all ad solution the social-networking site needs.

Reaction, of course, is mixed, as to the extent of the apology, the change and its impact.

On one hand, Om Malik of GigaOm, who is calling it Beacon Gate, noted: “I think this is a good move by Zuckerberg and I hope his team learns from it. This is the second time they have tried to test the limits of their community and gotten some flack for it. It would be better if they asked–they are a social community–and being social means listening and talking with each other first, not after the fact.”

On the other, Dave McClure of Master of 500 Hats defends Facebook: “The fact of the matter: Most of this sh– just doesn’t matter to most FB users. It might be a PR screw-up, but as long as the user base doesn’t have a negative reaction, eventually the advertisers won’t give a damn.”

We’ll see about that, of course, because this kind of thing can turn into death by a thousand cuts for a company, if they are not careful and don’t put the right kind of leadership in place with enough judgment to avoid this kind of mess.

More on that–the most critical issue going forward for Facebook–in this space soon.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik