For many, the words privacy and Facebook are seeming contradictions (“KoreAm February 2007 cover” by KoreAm. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KoreAm_February_2007_cover.jpg#mediaviewer/File:KoreAm_February_2007_cover.jpg)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg treated privacy as a nuisance, something to shove aside in his quest to build his empire.
Recently Facebook hired attorney, Survivor champion and media personality Yul Kwon to change that.
As Fusion reports, Kwon heads the team charged with making sure every change at Facebook, every new product avoids any privacy problems. It’s a change inspired by the Federal Trade Commission’s 2012 ruling that Facebook misled its users into thinking the information they posted would remain private.
“It’s a slow process and we have a lot of work to do,” said Kwon. “It’s like changing an oil tanker. Building user trust requires slow, incremental steps. But I think people are starting to believe us that we really are trying to do the right thing.”
Winning over a skeptical public may be only half the battle for Kwon. His biggest battle may be within Facebook itself where employees and project managers have to stop and think what impact their idea or product might have on user’s privacy.
“It was frustrating at first,” said Andrea Vaccari who’s role at Facebook was to launch a new app called Nearby Friends. The idea was to let Facebook users know when their Facebook friends were nearby. Would people have to opt in to get the feature, or would they have to opt out?
“I came into Facebook to launch this thing I believed in and I wanted to launch it to as many people as possible. At first the recommendations felt too conservative, but I learned quickly to appreciate the value of these recommendations. A bad launch could have hurt our ability to grow in the future.”
Finding the right balance is Kwon’s job. He wants Facebook to make privacy a priority, but he doesn’t want to slow things down so much that it falls behind its competitors.
You can read about this cultural shift at Facebook about privacy and the role Kwon has played in Fusion.