Mea Culpa – Maybe

6 Dec ’07

I’m finding it pretty interesting to note the generally dismissive and occasionally angry reaction that the ‘sphere is giving Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of the Beacon retreat. Fake Steve Jobs’ reaction mostly sums it up – many people don’t believe the apology is sincere – just opportunistic.

Zuckerberg’s Kabuki apology is perfectly sensible, of course. By now we’ve all seen multiple examples of this, and at mesh we’ve heard from people in the communications business who counsel on crisis management in a social media context: apologize early and often, for everything. How else, after all, do you quell the outraged sensibilities of a lynch mob – those are real pitchforks out there!

But there is an art to communicating insincerity, and Facebook seems to have tripped over its toes – again – in tying this one up. So now Facebook has two problems. First, there’s the question of whether Zuckerberg has sufficiently prostrated himself before the social media gods. And second, there’s the question of what exactly Facebook is retreating to. As Om notes, it’s not exactly clear.

And finally, one angle of this story that I’ve never really understood. For Beacon to work, Facebook’s partner sites have to send it the information that it wants (so much) to post to your profile. For many, the outrage has focused on Facebook for posting this information. Are we that far along on privacy that no one is fussed that the partner sites are sharing it in the first place? Maybe so – but I was surprised to learn this.

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