One topic that doesn’t come up too often during Facebook’s earnings calls is privacy, since it has little direct bearing on financial results, but Jefferies Analyst Brian Pitz brought up the topic during the company’s second-quarter earnings call Wednesday, and Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was only too happy to oblige.
Pitz said during the question-and-answer portion of Wednesday’s call:
Maybe a question in a different direction regarding privacy, and maybe you could just walk us through your current thoughts. The reason I asked is because Facebook recently introduced the anonymous login product at F8 this year, and new services like Save are hidden from friends unless users specifically opt in. Can you just give us a sense: Is this kind of a change of a strategic shift in thinking or tone with regard to privacy?
This is a really important question. I think this misunderstood about Facebook. One of the things that we focused on the most is creating private faces for people to share things and have interactions that they couldn’t have had elsewhere. So if you go back to the very beginning of Facebook, we’re more than 10 years. There were blogs and things where you could be completely public, and there were emails, right? So you could circulate something completely privately.
So there was no space where you could share with just your friends and have that. It wasn’t a completely private experience, but it’s not completely public, and it’s 100 or 150 of the people that you care about. And creating that space, which was a space that had the kind of privacy that no one had ever seen before, was what enabled and continues to enable the kind of interactions and the content that people feel comfortable sharing in this network that don’t exist in other places in the world.
So we’re comfortably looking for new opportunities to create new dynamics like that and open up new different private spaces for people where they can then feel comfortable sharing and having the freedom to express something you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. It’s one of the reasons why I’m personally so excited about messaging. Because like right now, I think that at some level, there are only so many photos that you’re going to want to share with all of your friends. We still think that there’s more to do there, but it’s like the amount of messaging and how quickly we see that growing, it’s crazy. Because like there is just a lot more that people want to express and that they need the tools to express with smaller groups of people — not just one person at a time, but smaller groups, as well. Things like anonymous login totally unlock different behavior. So how many times would you want to sign in to an application, but you don’t necessarily want to share a lot of information with that app, but if you can do it anonymously, we think that can unlock of lot of different interactions and experiences that people want to have. So we do our jobs, very fundamentally providing people with these spaces and tools, which I think is very different from how a lot of people think about what Facebook is, but it’s an important thing to think about how we do our product development.
Readers: What did you think of Zuckerberg’s response?
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