US & World

Facebook's Zuckerberg Argues Against Making 'Privacy' Your 'Default Setting'

The social site's founder says sharing information is a crucial part of Facebook's core mission.

In the uproar over Facebook's privacy settings, which this week prompted the social networking site to make some major changes in the ways you can protect information, one question has been asked over and over.

As All Things Considered co-host Melissa Block puts it, why doesn't Facebook just make " 'privacy' the default setting?"

Just a few minutes ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg  told Melissa that "Facebook has always been about friends and community" -- so the "default" has been skewed toward sharing information rather than restricting it.

Here's the exchange Melissa had with Zuckerberg about the "default setting" issue:

The Facebook founder said, as he did yesterday when he unveiled the setting changes, that the site hopes it has now made it much easier to set privacy settings -- without changing the social nature of the site.

Zuckerberg also spent some time addressing what he says are false rumors and misperceptions about Facebook, including:

-- "There's this false rumor that's been going around which says that we're sharing private information with applications and it's just not true. The way it works, is ... if you choose to share some information with everyone on the site, that means that any person can go look up that information and any application can go look up that information as well. ... But applications have to ask for permission for anything that you've set to be private."

-- "Advertisers never get access to your information. We never sell anyone's information and we have no plans to ever do that in the future. Now, in order to run a service like this that serves more than 400 million users, it does cost money ... so we do have to make money and the way we do that is through ...  advertising. Advertisers come to us and they say what they want to advertise and we show advertisements to people who we think are going to be most interested. ... But at no part in that process is any of your information shared with advertisers."

Much more from Melissa's conversation with Zuckerberg is due on today's edition of ATC. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, the as-aired version of their conversation (with radio-quality audio) will be posted here.

Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit