Monday, January 10, 2011

10 Things Facebook Won't Say

"1. "We were in the right place at the right time."
In the hit movie The Social Network, a college student dumped by his girlfriend reacts by building a crude precursor to
"Thefacebook" website. And while Mark Zuckerberg, the entrepreneur portrayed, has said the girlfriend "doesn't exist in real life,"
the success of his invention is anything but fiction. Facebook has 500 million regular users, up from 100 million two years ago, and
is now the most visited site in the U.S., according to data tracker Hitwise.
While social networking wasn't new when Facebook appeared in 2004, industry observers attribute its success to a mix of luck,
ambition and strategy. "Mark had all three in spades," says David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect. By initially limiting
access to students from select colleges, Facebook (which declined to comment on much of this article) could choose where and
when to roll out, protecting it from too rapid growth. The early requirement that people use real names was also a boon. "There
was an appetite on the Internet to be yourself and connect to your real friends," says Kirkpatrick.

2. "We know where you go online..."

In its seven years, Facebook has evolved quickly, adding features like instant messaging and news feeds. But critics say some
developments can compromise user privacy. For instance, you can share online content with Facebook friends using the
ubiquitous "Like" button. But press it or not, if you're logged in to Facebook while surfing, it will know when you visit any site with
these so-called social plug-ins, says Nicole Ozer, a policy director at the ACLU of Northern California. "Facebook can essentially
track you around the Web," she says. Facebook makes all such policies known to users, but critics wonder how many people are
paying attention. Responding to a letter from privacy groups last year, Facebook said it stores users' Web-surfing data for no
longer than 90 days.

3. "...and we hope you don't mind being tracked offline, too."

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