All is well after Zuckerberg photo flap

All is well after Zuckerberg photo flap
Tech Corner

POSTED: Friday, December 28, 2012 - 3:00am

UPDATED: Friday, December 28, 2012 - 3:04am

The sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says there are no hard feelings after a "leaked" family photo raised questions about online etiquette and privacy on the social network.

Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook's former marketing chief and producer of the Bravo reality series "Silicon Valley," posted a photo Wednesday of her family laughing with their smartphones while apparently playing with Facebook's new Poke app. In the background of the photo, taken in a spacious kitchen, is her brother Mark, sporting his trademark hoodie.

It's unclear exactly what happened next. Either Zuckerberg accidentally made the photo available to all her subscribers instead of only her friends, or a friend of a friend saw it when one of Zuckerberg's friends "liked" or commented on it.

Either way, Callie Schweitzer, a marketing director for Vox Media, saw it and shared it on Twitter with her 40,000 followers.

"@randizuckerberg demonstrates her family's response to Poke," she wrote, with a link to the photo.

Zuckerberg quickly replied: "Not sure where you got this photo. I posted it only to friends on FB. You reposting it on Twitter is way uncool."

She then turned around and offered more general commentary to 132,000 followers of her own.

"Digital etiquette: always ask permission before posting a friend's photo publicly. It's not about privacy settings, it's about human decency," she wrote.

(Most of those comments have since been deleted but were captured by tech blogs and other sites.)

What, if anything, the incident says about Facebook's privacy policies is subject to debate. Some Internet wags were quick to pounce on the episode as an ironic example of Facebook's confusing privacy settings: See? Protecting your information on Facebook is so tricky that even a former Facebook executive couldn't do it.

But who among us has never misclicked something in a drop-down menu? And if Schweitzer did, in fact, see the photo because a friend commented on it, that's how Facebook is supposed to work -- unless users have adjusted their default settings.

Privacy, though, is always a tricky business for the social megasite.

This month, Facebook announced an overhaul to its privacy settings, addressing past complaints that the tools available to clamp down on one's profile are scattered and hard to find, much less use. And Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo apps, recently backed down on a controversial change to its terms of use that appeared to give the company the right to sell photos to advertisers.

That said, all appears to have ended well in Randi Zuckerberg's case.

Schweitzer quickly issued a mea culpa. "I'm just your subscriber and this was top of my newsfeed. Genuinely sorry but it came up in my feed and seemed public," she tweeted to Zuckerberg.

And later: "fwiw, I thought the photo was incredibly endearing which is why I liked it. We never see humans on the Internet!"

By Thursday, Zuckerberg was putting a happy face on the whole thing.

"Fwiw, I've been exchanging emails w/ @cschweitz & she seems lovely," she wrote. "The silver lining? Glad to see a thoughtful debate on sharing/etiquette." 

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