Today, Facebook is having an emergency meeting to discuss their site's privacy problem. But these instant messages, supposedly sent by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Facebook's early days, suggest that user privacy may have always been an afterthought.
The messages were uncovered by Silicon Alley Insider, who is no stranger to excavating the unsavory details of Facebook's past. They read:
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don't know why.
Zuck: They "trust me"
Zuck: Dumb fucks.
As SAI points out, there's no context for Zuckerberg's remarks, if they are indeed his, and there's no way to tell if these comments reflect how he really viewed matters of privacy when he was building Facebook.
But the allegation that Zuckerberg once used information from Facebook's logs to hack into Harvard Crimson reporters' email accounts certainly doesn't help his track record on this sort of thing, and Facebook's official response to the messages doesn't deny that they came from Zuckerberg:
The privacy and security of our users' information is of paramount importance to us. We're not going to debate claims from anonymous sources or dated allegations that attempt to characterize Mark's and Facebook's views towards privacy.
While the vast majority of Facebook's users might not think twice about what the site does with the information they post in their profiles, the contingent that is concerned is growing in size and becoming increasingly vocal. Yesterday, an open source Facebook alternative called Diaspora was lavished with attention and subsequently received a deluge of funding—it has now raised over $100,000. And even though these messages don't paint the whole picture by any means, I wouldn't be surprised if they drive a lot more funding in Diaspora's direction. [SAI]
IM mock-up for illustrative purposes only and may not be techno-historically accurate.