Nick Bilton, lead technology writer at New York Times, just live-blogged Facebook’s privacy announcement. Facebook unveiled a series of measures to calm consumers fears on the privacy of content posted on the very popular social networking site. I think it will satisfy many people. You can read more in the New York Times article or on Facebook itself. I did note an interesting Local/Social question from Bilton during the session:
[Bilton] asked about the company’s plans to roll out services that share your location and how it will avoid another backlash about this.
Mr. Zuckerberg: We are really going to try to not have another backlash. The settings that we announced today will apply to all the settings going forward. I’m not ready to talk about anything around location, frankly because it’s not done yet, and we’re not ready to talk about it yet. But we can say that the settings that you apply today will be set for those experiences. This one simple setting will control all of the new products that we launch when we move forward. This is something that we’ve never done before.
What it means: excellent question from Nick Bilton, knowing how sensitive geo-location information can be. Read about Please Rob Me to understand the potential implications. But Facebook geo-location capabilities are coming! And it will probably be a game-changer.
Robert Scoble, who’s currently attending the Davos conference, had the chance to connect with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO. Among the things Zuckerberg shared:
- Localization: “they are within weeks of shipping translated versions of Facebook.”
- Application Platform: “they are working on a major overhaul of the application platform. Both to make apps less spammy and also to deliver much more functionality so more apps move beyond the viral, but pretty low feature, styles of apps.”
- Data Portability: “they are still thinking about data portability and just how that will work to both protect users as well as to encourage new kinds of applications to be built.”
- Scrabulous: “he talked to me about his love of Scrabulous and was hopeful that a good resolution will come. (…) He thinks there may be an acquisition or other good outcome to the dispute.”
- The Beacon debacle: “he admitted to me that he had made mistakes in how they implemented Beacon and explained it. Watch for him to come back with a new Beacon and a much better explanation.”
What it means: being located outside the US, I definitely sense that localization is the biggest issue facing Facebook in terms of future growth. Europe has seen the emergence of strong regional social network players because of that situation, especially in non-English speaking countries. On Scrabulous, expect Facebook themselves to buy the application (and then pay Hasbro for the license) as it is one of the stickiest app out there.
Taking the stage yesterday afternoon for a Q&A with John Battelle, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, admitted that the fact you can’t “export” data out of Facebook is a “flaw in the system”. Facebook has been much criticized in the last few months about that portion of their f8 “open” platform.
Battelle was in great shape asking many interesting questions to the 23 year-old web entrepreneur. We learned that Zuckerberg spends a lot of his time on hiring and recruiting, but none on a rumored Facebook IPO. He said the IPO was “years out”. Facebook currently has 300+ employees and are aiming at having 700 in one year. He also admitted they don’t spend much time worrying about optimizing their revenues as they’re busy working on product development (he partially revealed that they’re building their own ad network but he did say Facebook is not a media company). They are currently running at breakeven and have been since the launch of the site.
When asked to define social graph, he said Facebook does not aim to create a social graph. They want to take the existing social graph of the real world (your contacts, friends, etc.), map it out and then expose that social graph to applications, to share information more effectively.
Next question was: “is the Facebook social graph the heir to Pagerank (Google’s famous algorithm)? Zuckerberg answered that a great way to get information was via your contacts as opposed to media, obliquely referring to what people call the Facebook “secret sauce”
Battelle concluded with a tough question. When asked “are you thinking of bringing a grown-up to run the company”, there was a awkward pause and then Zuckerberg said there was really nothing to comment on, that they are focused on developing a really good team and he was not sure there’s was another CEO candidate out there that would be better at building Facebook.