Zuckerberg: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Collect Data ‘Behind Your Back’ (PC MAG)
An American TV show Charlie Rose interviewed Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
PC MAG has compiled some excerpts from the interview where he discusses such things as the “rivalry” between Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple. He also discussed privacy issues with Facebook, Steve Jobs and a range of other issues including the anticipated Facebook Initial Public Offering
GOOGLE AND YAHOO AND MICROSOFT, OH MY!: Zuckerberg asserted that Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo collect far more information about their users than Facebook does. “It’s just that they’re collecting that about you behind your back,” Zuckerberg said. “You’re going around the Web and they’re collecting this huge amount of information about you and you never know that.” He alluded to services like Google Dashboard, which show you the data collected about you, but “very few people” actually look at that, Zuckerberg said.
FACEBOOK PROVIDES THE MOST CONTROL: “I think it’s really about control,” Zuckerberg said of Facebook’s policies. “The real question for me is do people have the tools that they need in order to make those decisions well?” In the beginning, Facebook was focused on tech-savvy kids in college but has expanded to include 800 million people, some of whom only use their computers for Facebook and maybe the occasional email, he said. So Facebook needs to make privacy controls “easier and easier.”
FACEBOOK AND CALLER ID?: Sandberg likened the privacy concerns over Facebook to caller ID. When that technology first emerged, she said, people were up in arms and said it was a violation of the caller’s privacy to have their numbers revealed. It’s now a mainstream and expected feature on all phones, she said, but it goes to show that “there is always a concern” about emerging technologies.
STEVE JOBS: “He’s amazing,” Zuckerberg said of the late Apple co-founder. The Facebook chief said he had “a lot of questions” for Jobs, like how to build a team that’s focused on building a high-quality product, how to keep a company focused, and about the aesthetics and mission of a company. When asked if Jobs had expressed an interest in acquiring Facebook, Zuckerberg said no, “nor would I have wanted to sell it.” He said he was touched by the quote in the recent Jobs biography, where Jobs said he admired Zuckerberg and Facebook for not selling out. “I think that’s one of the ways we saw eye-to-eye,” Zuckerberg said.
ONE BILLION STRONG: Rose asked Zuckerberg when Facebook, which now has just over 800 million users, might hit one billion users. “If we do well,” it might hit that milestone by the end of 2012, he said. And despite downplaying the 750 million-user mark earlier this year, Zuckerberg acknowledged that it will be a big day at Facebook when that user count surpasses one billion.
CHINA: One country that could help Facebook hit that one billion user mark is China, but the social network is thus far banned in the region. Sandberg said that “you can’t connect the whole world and not China,” but given the restrictions, “that’s not something we’re focused on now.” Zuckerberg said that, for now, he would rather focus on “places in the world where we can connect people more simply.” He said that “if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress,” so China is “not the top thing we’re thinking about right now.”
ARAB SPRING: On the other side of the world, Facebook and Twitter got a lot of credit for helping organize those involved in the Arab Spring uprising. Zuckerberg, however, downplayed the company’s influence. “My personal take on this is that social media’s role is maybe a bit overblown in that,” he said. “If people want change, then they will find a way to get that change. Whatever technology they may or may not have used was neither a necessary or sufficient case for getting to the outcome they go to, but people wanting change was.” Zuckerberg said he doesn’t “pretend that if Facebook didn’t exist that this wouldn’t have been possible.”
FACEBOOK IPO: The idea behind going public is to be able to give back to those who invested in the company and helped it grow with their engineering talent, Zuckerberg said. “One of the way you do that is to compensate people with equity and options.” That compensation, however, is not happening overnight. Facebook will go public “when it makes sense,” Zuckerberg said, but he declined to elaborate on what that meant. “It’s honestly not something I spend time thinking about on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
WHAT’S NEXT: Zuckerberg envisioned an expansion of its recently announced deals with content companies like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify. Going forward, instead of just telling people how you feel or what you had for dinner, you can share your interests more deeply with apps that bring in your activity from across the Web. “Do you want to go to the movies by yourself or with your friends?” Zuckerberg asked, an idea that extends to the Facebook environment.
A preview of the exclusive interview can be seen on Youtube: