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Facebook's Zuckerberg: Face It, No One Wants Online Privacy Anymore

Online privacy is no longer the 'social norm' as users of social networking sites like Facebook become more comfortable sharing information on the Internet, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said this weekend.

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Zuckerberg's comments are bound to fuel the controversy over Facebook's privacy policies, which some consider to be inadequate. Last month the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Facebook is endangering its users' private data.

Zuckerberg, speaking at the Crunchie awards in San Francisco over the weekend, said social norms toward information privacy are evolving. "People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people," he said, citing the increased number of people who have been posting blogs over the past five or six years. "That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.

"We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are," he said.

"A lot of companies would be trapped by the conventions and their legacies of what they've built. Doing a privacy change " doing a privacy change for 350 million users " is not the kind of thing that a lot of companies would do."

Last year Facebook found itself mired in controversy several times as it tried to update the social networking site's privacy policies. Under the latest policy change, implemented in December, the site's default privacy settings allow anyone to view a user's profile, photos and status updates, rather than "friends" and "friends of friends." Users have to actively modify their privacy settings to prevent their information from being shared with "everyone."

Critics also have said Facebook's default privacy settings give search engines such as Google and Microsoft Bing too much access to Facebook data.

A number of privacy rights organizations joined EPIC in filing the FTC complaint, including the American Library Association, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Consumer Federation of America.

While Zuckerberg's comments are bound to be controversial, in the context of the ongoing debate about Facebook's privacy policies, his recent comments are relatively tame compared to former Sun CEO Scott McNealy's famous statement in 1999 to a group of journalists and industry analysts: "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." His comments came in response to a question about what privacy safeguards Sun would be implementing in Jini, a Sun technology that allowed consumer devices to communicate and share resources with each other.

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