On Facebook's Selective Transparency

A little over a year ago, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a piece highlighting the importance of corporate transparency, especially within Facebook. Just over one year later, he is coming under scrutiny for what is essentially a lack of transparency. While there have been excessive and unnecessary attacks on Zuckerberg himself within some of the press, a lack of a response this time around will paint him as someone who is dictatorial.

Last year’s article by Zuckerberg ends with the following paragraph:

“History tells us that systems are most fairly governed when there is an open and transparent dialogue between the people who make decisions and those who are affected by them. We believe history will one day show that this principle holds true for companies as well, and we’re looking to moving in this direction with you.”

In his book, “The Facebook Effect“, David Kirkpatrick writes about a dialogue he had with Mark Zuckerberg, just two weeks after the company announced the results of the company’s vote on two new documents: the Facebook Priciples and the “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities”:

Zuckerberg was please when I talked to him two weeks after the results were announced. He planned more such votes in the future. “If we do something controversial, what this will really mean is that we’re accountable to our users,” he told me. “We now need to communicate with them clearly about it. I think that keeps us honest.”

Just weeks into the company’s latest privacy dilemma, Facebook is remaining relatively silent about making any impending changes to satisfy users. The company appears to continue supporting the “Instant Personalization” service despite tens of thousands of users voting against the product by opting out in addition to posting status messages describing how to opt out of the program (continuing through today).

Rather than making any official statement, Mark Zuckerberg (and company) decided to let the company’s VP of Public Policy, Elliot Schrage, engage in a less-than-transparent reader Q&A with the New York Times. While the company’s communication team is clearly doing what they can to try and quell the backlash, it requires a stronger statement from Mark Zuckerberg himself. No matter what the company’s intentions are moving forward, it’s pretty obvious that they should be more open about it with the users.