During his visit to Washington, D.C., Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat down with The Atlantic Editor-in-Chief James Bennet at the Newseum, where he discussed the National Security Agency’s Prism initiative and whether or not Facebook is still cool, among other topics.
The full video is available here and embedded below.
Zuckerberg said about Prism:
What I can tell from the data that I see at Facebook is that the more transparency and communication the government could do about how they’re requesting data from us, the better everyone would feel about it. It would be in their interest in terms of resolving this on the Facebook side.
From reading all of the press, you couldn’t get a sense if the number of requests the government makes was closer to 1,000 or closer to 100 million. We made a push to release the aggregate number of requests we get. We were able to disclose that the sum of these requests over the past half-year was on the order of 9,000.
Overall, we still don’t have the right to be able to share whether 1,000, 2,000, or 3,000 of the 9,000 are national security requests.
I don’t think the answer is no government requests for national security, which I think some people have pushed on.
My general belief on this is that the more transparent they are about what they’re doing, the more confident the public will be with it.
One of the things we track very closely is trust. Our whole service is based on enabling people to share privately. Our statements on privacy tend to not move the needle much in terms of trust. The NSA stuff did. The trust metrics for all of the big Internet companies went down when Prism came out.
On a more humorous note, when Zuckerberg was asked about competing social networks and the whims of what teenagers thought was “cool,” he responded:
People assume that we’re trying to be cool. That’s never been my goal. I’m like the least cool person there is. Maybe electricity was cool when it first came out, but pretty quickly, people stopped talking about it, because it’s not the new thing. The real question you want to track is: Are people not turning on their lights because it’s less cool? Those angles on coolness are kind of done for us.
Readers: How did the news of the NSA’s Prism initiative affect your trust level when it comes to Facebook?