Facebook Privacy Causes Stir with a Zuckerberg

Facebook Privacy Causes Stir with a ZuckerbergThe past two or three years have seen an explosion in the adoption and use of social media by the public as a whole. Twitter has around 500 million active users now, as does Google+. LinkedIn – the professional’s social media platform – has about 175 million users. Facebook this year topped over a billion users. As people get used to the broad adoption of social media, privacy is going to be something talked about in greater frequency. Today it turns out one of the Zuckerbergs got a taste of what a lack of privacy can feel like.

Randi Zuckerberg’s Photo

This morning, news started to spread about a photo Randi Zuckerman took of her family (with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg) and how it was spread all over the net. As Todd Wasserman writes on Mashable, “Lovers of Irony take note: Mark Zuckerberg’s sister Randi has complained about a Facebook privacy breach.”

This morning a friend of Randi’s, Callie Schweitzer (director of marketing at VoxMedia) saw a photo of Randi’s family reacting to the new Poke app on her Facebook page. The photo was so “incredibly endearing” that she shared it with the world on Twitter. To me this seems like an honest mistake – doesn’t everyone assume that once something is on Facebook it’s out in the open?

And that’s the problem working in the world of Social media. As you work with clients or run your own social media campaign for your business, assumptions can mean very bad things with the speed of communication today. Just last week I wrote about some hastily put together Terms of Service and policy that Instagram released. After all of the public outrage, they are now facing lawsuits for the changes. I wasn’t even expecting to see that sort of reaction! I guess I assumed wrongly (oops!).

Back to the Photo

Anyway, Randi and Callie had a civilized Twitter conversation about the issue which is of course completely public and in the open. You can read about it on Mashable’s page. More importantly, Kathy Gill, a tech policy analyst writing for The Moderate Voice reminds us that “Facebook’s privacy policy is not only complicated, it is designed to push information sharing.” This is pretty much the deal with social media; sharing makes everything work, from communication to marketing.

Randi has every right to her privacy, we all do. But once the cat is out of the bag, I feel like you should make the most out of an issue like this. Luckily it wasn’t harmful – outside of a privacy breach – to any of the Zuckerbergs. Why not roll with it and use the photo and/or rumored video to promoted Facebook’s new Poke app? The story is getting plenty of buzz anyway!

Lessons to Learn

As an agency or a small business, your interactions with social media and the information you put on the internet needs to be carefully considered. Content that violates or even questionably violates someone’s privacy without permission should be avoided entirely. Even though the reaction and content in this case is innocent, for others it might not be. Instagram is a prime example of this!

If you find yourself in a “situation” as I’ll call these social media faux pas, make concerted effort to ensure your reaction is positive or beneficial. Make the most of the issue at hand; either accept it and turn it into positive press, or acknowledge your mistake and apologize for it immediately. Unfortunately I can see these sorts of stories becoming more frequent in the future. Let’s hope they stay as innocent as a photo of a family enjoying themselves.

Does your agency or business have a plan in place for unexpected “situations” with social media?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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