How Private are Facebook Executives?

Thanks to the New York Times, I got a chance to ask Elliot Schrage, VP of Public Policy at Facebook, about his own settings on FB.

I’d like to ask Elliot, and all the senior staff at Facebook, what are the privacy settings for their own personal Facebook accounts? Can you share the settings (not your personal data, obviously) with the NYT and Facebook users? Scott Berkun, Seattle

Not surprisingly, Facebook senior staff reflect a broad cross section of preferences for sharing and privacy. Because my role is more public, there’s already lots of information about me on the internet over which I have no control on Wikipedia, in news stories and blogs and in other places. These sources include lots of information I might prefer to have private, such as my e-mail address, but I don’t have the power to prevent that information from being available online or in a search index. Perhaps as a result, I use my Facebook profile for more personal information, and take advantage of our controls to target what I share. I’m open to accepting Friend requests from acquaintances and messages from everyone, but I generally restrict my sharing to Friends and members of the Facebook network at work.

Mark takes a different view. He’s more restrictive about which friend requests he accepts, but he’s more willing to share information about himself and what he’s up to with anyone who visits his profile. You can see how my and Mark’s profile differ by checking them out. The settings of other members of our senior management team generally fall somewhere between Mark’s and mine.

Hmmm. I thought I’d asked a pretty tight question, but somehow I don’t feel I got a solid answer. What should I have asked?

You can see the full NYT article here, with questions for him from others . The comments thread is pretty harsh.

10 Responses to “How Private are Facebook Executives?”

  1. Arthur Pappas

    Scott, given Zuckerberg’s well documented history of questionable moral behaviour, I was both surprised & dismayed to find you giving him/Facebook any of your time.

  2. Scott Berkun

    Arthur: Well, I didn’t do much more than drop a question in the NYT box. Took about 20 seconds.

  3. Paul Milne

    What you should have asked him depends on what was really behind the question you asked. He answered your very specific question about what his settings were – what kind of answer did you WANT him to give?

  4. Amber Shah

    Sure it was straightforward but of course they have the artful dodge. Perhaps a better question would be this: what percentage of the Facebook execs left their settings at the defaults. If they changed them to be more secure, why do they think it’s an appropriate default for the public at large?

  5. Asif

    I guess we should come out of this privacy issue of face book.
    There must be new topic to debate on face book.



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