Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the BYU Technology Forum yesterday and although I have interviewed and met dozens of celebrities, this was the first time I had butterflies – and I didn’t even get to meet him. But I was there, and he was there and by the way, he’s much cuter in person.
I don’t know what the point of the forum was honestly. I did get a quick one-on-one with Sen. Orrin Hatch beforehand – my article on his thoughts on Obamacare will be hitting St. George News this weekend – and he said he asked Zuckerberg to come to the forum because they are good friends, because Hatch is chair of the Senatorial Tech Committee, etc. But WHY does it matter that Zuckerberg come to Provo, Utah, of all places to talk about Facebook? (As a side note, I thought Hatch did quite well at the forum)
Well Provo is a bunch of young and brilliant voters – I mean technology users. Some of the attendees told me they thought Zuckerberg was going to announce that Provo would be the spot for a new Facebook office (that video will be on St. George News website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in about a half hour). By the way, he didn’t make that announcement, though he did talk about his extremely smart girlfriend for a bit – now that’s a man in love who announces to thousands of people that he even has a girlfriend.
Approximately 450 questions were submitted to the BYU Facebook page in advance – way to grow your fan number. In fact, I heard about the forum when Hatch sent me a Facebook invite. And BYU then proceeded to sift through them and decide which ones to ask Zuckerberg. And that is where I went “Who the heck was in charge of that process?!”
For example, “Mark, what college classes would you suggest students take” or something like that. To which Zuckerberg then responded, “I wasn’t in school that long.” Zuckerberg did end up talking about the difference between practical classes that are necessary and the classes that test your ability to think for yourself and encouraged everyone to stay in school or something. I was too busy going, “Who the heck thought THAT was more important than, “Will businesses be able to boost SEO within Facebook?” or my friend Mark Heiner’s question:
What algorithm is used by facebook to populate the recently interacted friends list? I don’t actively interact with several of the friends listed there, and interact frequently with friends not listed there. Is it based on one way interaction? Are some of these individuals the “creepers” of my wall?
Now THAT is a valid question!
What surprised me though, was Zuckerberg’s answer to the dark side of Facebook and privacy concerns. OK he probably wants nothing to do with talking about how people use FB to hook up with ex’s, cheat on their spouses, stalk their ex’s new significant other; or are so addicted to it that they lose their job, etc. But he did tell the crowd that Facebook information is private and safe.
<pause for effect>
Facebook has gone through a lot of effort, ie money, to make Facebook secure. I do feel pretty confident that my Facebook is not going to get hacked and that I am not going to get a virus (that however is because I am on a Mac and I see a lot of my PC friends getting viruses from FB and I see FB generally staying one foot ahead of the “bad guys”). He said that users under 13 need parents written consent to be on there (please read my April column in Alive magazine about the dangers of tweens and FB relationship status). He said, this was the shocking part, that you can control who sees your information on FB.
I love the privacy settings, I really love the block feature, but that doesn’t prevent my ex boyfriend (who doesn’t have FB) seeing and hearing about what he thought was my wild night (was home by 9) at a bar (Applebees) with a new boyfriend (My friend Ty who I’ve known for years). That doesn’t stop his ex girlfriend from stalking me and having her friends try adding me (that’s the biggest reason I deleted that last FB profile).
The truth is, no matter who you are friends with, no matter what your privacy settings are, NO information you put online anywhere is safe. I can go to any website or any FB profile and do a screenshot and send it to anyone I want. I can block anyone who is not my friend from seeing my photos, but any one of my friends can share that with their friends, etc. That’s why businesses love Facebook, it’s viral – everything online is.
I’m not trashing Facebook, I LOVE it and I use it multiple times a day. But I hope that when you are concerned with your privacy, you understand that the only way to keep it private, is to not put it online at all.