Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Mark Zuckerberg Talks About Facebook Terms of Service Snafu!


Last week, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was all about regret when talking about the umpteenth stubbed toe that he got when the social-networking site changed its Terms of Service and accidentally laid claim to every piece of intellectual property in the world.

Okay, maybe not all, but it was enough of a goof to cause him to have to address the issue and correct it quickly by introducing a complex new system of user-approval and notification.

The new standards have been dubbed by Facebook, obviously in a United Nations kind of mood: “The Facebook Principles, a set of values that will guide the development of the service, and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities that governs Facebook’s operations. Users will have the opportunity to review, comment and vote on these documents over the coming weeks and, if they are approved, other future policy changes.”

Cue the soaring anthem! (In Facebook’s case, it would sound like Buckcherry’s “Sorry” video below.)

In any case, BoomTown talked to Zuckerberg right after his press conference last Thursday on the new set-up and got his main takeaway from the controversy: “Whenever users speak in a loud voice, it shows how much people care [about Facebook].”

Awwwww, that’s sweet. But, actually, whenever users speak in a loud voice, it is because they are pissed off at you.

But, water under the bridge!

And to get more of an idea of what’s coming, here are some various and sundry thoughts on the issue from the man whose minions have nicknamed the Wizard (all are direct quotes):

“I think it is important for all of us to understand the idea that this is a service that is really important to people…unlike a lot of services they’ve used in the past, it’s made up with their own information and a lot of it is very sensitive.

“That’s why we think it’s important to make Facebook’s world more open and transparent…it has been become more and more apparent that we have to set up a foundation of what we are doing and have a dialog with the community about how we do it.

“What’s important is the foundation and policy and that it should be subject to public discourse and feedback…Within that framework, Facebook is then free to build products quickly.

“Because Facebook has become an important daily part of people’s lives, it deserves good governance process…we need to explain the reasons why we do things in the same way governments should explain the reasons they do.

“There will be a lot a lot of changes people care about and some they do not and not all of them will rise to the level that the whole community needs to weigh in on.

“This has been a learning experience, and sometimes we don’t do as well we as could in communicating what we are doing. Obviously, we can always communicate better. But another interpretation you could have is that Facebook is way more important than anyone thought it was.

“Since we’re in new territory, we want to have a system to communicate with users, which makes it clear how we are going to communicate and clear what the policy is.

“So any amendments we make, for example, we will notify everyone and they are free to offer comments on any topic. There has to be a threshold of 7,000 people commenting…because we really want to reflect the will of the community and get a critical mass, instead of just hearing from a small vocal minority.

“I am excited and a lot of people have questions about what happened, and they should have them. We wanted to make sure that users understand that we want them to ask questions. I think that, [even with the controversy], we are building toward end goal that’s awesome.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald