Facebook founder’s anti-privacy sister changes tune after personal photo goes viral

Once again, I couldn’t be happier that I shut down my Facebook account so many years ago.

Randi Zuckerberg — sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who used to be the marketing director of the company — had previously said that online anonymity “has to go away”:

“I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away… People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.”

Yeah, nice idea in theory.  But in practice, not so much.  Here’s what happened the other day when Zuckerberg, the sister, posted a photo to Facebook:

A picture that Zuckerberg’s sister posted on her personal Facebook profile was seen by a marketing director, who then posted the picture to Twitter and her more than 40,000 followers Wednesday.

That didn’t sit well with Zuckerberg’s sister, Randi, who tweeted at Callie Schweitzer that the picture was meant for friends only and that posting the private picture on Twitter was “way uncool.” Schweitzer replied by saying the picture popped up on her Facebook news feed.

facebook

Facebook via Shutterstock

It’s hard to miss the irony – Facebook’s property, Instagram, caused a big blow up last week by announcing that it was going to own every photo that users posted on the app/network, and would sell the photos to advertisers without your knowledge.  Sell your Instagram photo to advertisers without your knowledge or permission, okay – post your photo to Facebook photo to Twitter, oh the horror!  And it’s all the more ironic with Facebook’s long history of privacy controversies.

Germany has just forced Facebook to accept accounts under pseudonyms (Facebook previously banned any account that didn’t broadcast your real name to the world), which has to be upsetting to the Zuckerberg family – if one country gets a little more privacy, then some day everyone will want it.

CBS News:

A picture that Zuckerberg’s sister posted on her personal Facebook profile was seen by a marketing director, who then posted the picture to Twitter and her more than 40,000 followers Wednesday.

That didn’t sit well with Zuckerberg’s sister, Randi, who tweeted at Callie Schweitzer that the picture was meant for friends only and that posting the private picture on Twitter was “way uncool.” Schweitzer replied by saying the picture popped up on her Facebook news feed.

The picture shows four people standing around a kitchen staring at their phones with their mouths open while Mark Zuckerberg is in the background.

It’s an interesting question as to what expectation of privacy you should have when you post a personal photo to Facebook. We already know that employers are scouring Facebook — and even asking prospective job seekers for their Facebook log-in info — in order to find out all the dirt they can before hiring you.

Are you really signaling to the world that your family photos are private when you post them on a social network that has 800 million active users?


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

Share This Post

  • cole3244

    she has the wall st mentality, which is to say let them eat cake.

  • http://twitter.com/JafafaHots Jafafa Hots

    I was kicked off of facebook for using this name, which I have used exclusively online for over a decade and have almost legally changed my name to.

    After a year I signed up again after pestering from my family, but quickly realized that facebook was essentially useless anyway and didn’t really use it. Then this time Facebook deleted my account under my real name, because I had been kicked off previously for using THIS name.

    Facebook did me a favor. As it is I have to sit through family members feeling that it’s VERY important for them to read me their facebook newsfeed, because I desperately need to be informed that one of their 2500 friends, someone in Greece they’ve never met, just posted about their cousin getting a new cat.

    Facebook is garbage.

  • Hue-Man

    Schadenfreude. Maybe they’ll start valuing their users’ privacy concerns – don’t hold your breath. I’ve stayed away from FB mainly because I don’t trust the morality of the people who started it (and I’ve seen nothing that would change that early opinion).

  • bluecollarbytes

    I’m waiting for the ‘Google virtual-you’ or ‘you-view’ application, where Google-connected cameras of all kinds will ‘follow’ Zuckerberg and others around from day to day. We can check in then, anytime, to see what they’re up to, what they eat, where they sleep, who they know, who they blovv, how they spend their money, and what they’re really like as mere humans.

  • http://twitter.com/Tyson_Pruitt Tyson Pruitt

    Maybe she’s just embarrassed because the photo shows they have such a boring, typical McMansion kitchen.

  • http://twitter.com/gaygeekdad Mark

    I agree. You can be public and anonymous, like that lesbian blogger at the christian college that’s been in the news this month. The meat of this story is that even people who held high-level positions at Facebook can’t get a handle on its privacy settings.

  • The Dark Avenger

    Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi

    “What is allowed to the Gods, is forbidden to the cattle.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quod_licet_Iovi,_non_licet_bovi

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    karma!

  • HolyMoly

    Zuckerberg shows us but one example of the mentality that pervades the financial and political elite in this country, a mentality that she and others like her apply both to business as well as the law. People with power, wealth, and influence are exempt from the very things that the financially and politically powerless are supposed to obey. And, by the way, shame on us for EVER raising any objections.

    This particular incident is but a small glimpse into a much broader picture of the type of nation we have become. I am, however, highly pleased that she has been given a taste of the Zuckerberg medicine, and knows how bitter it is. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to change her views on the subject.

  • Naja pallida

    Don’t you know, being an overpaid paid executive of a corporate entity automatically makes you superior, and deserving of rights that others don’t get? They don’t want to seem human. That is so mundane.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    It’s a valuable lesson everyone should learn and burn into their neurons: Nothing of value is truly free.

    Oooh, wow, Instagram! Facebook! eVite! Freeconferencing!

    In every viable business model, there has to be money somewhere, else it won’t attract investors, much less be able to pay for staff and facilities. Sometimes it’ll be a premium subscription, or a charge for commercial use or something. As John’s recounted, the web-ads model is abysmal and doesn’t pay much at all. So the question becomes, “How are they supporting this business?”

    If it’s not obvious, like with FB, then it’s for damned sure the plan all along has been to marketize people’s personal information.

  • mirror

    The sad part is that she is so out of touch that she doesn’t realize the photo humanizes her and her family in a way that is good PR.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    I don’t think the first quote you use demonstrates the irony — anonymity and privacy are different things, and I agree with her that a lack of anonymity is generally good for things like the tenor of Internet discussions. The reason I find this incident so funny is that a) part of Facebook’s mission is “frictionless sharing”, but Randi is clearly someone who would like some more friction impeding her sharing, and b) that it’s equally clear that she understands Facebook’s privacy controls and rules about as well as the rest of us, which is not at all.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Remember: Nothing is ever deleted from Facebook’s servers. They keep EVERYTHING. When you ‘delete’ from Facebook, all you are doing is hiding from yourself, Facebook still owns you.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/11/13/austrian-student-takes-on-facebook/
    “The 24-year-old wasn’t sure what to expect when he requested Facebook provide him with a record of the personal data it holds on him, but he certainly wasn’t ready for the 1,222 pages of information he received.

    This included photos, messages and postings on his Facebook page dating back years, some of which he thought he had deleted, the times he had clicked “like” on an item, “pokes” of fellow users, and reams of other information.

    When you delete something from Facebook, all you are doing is hiding it from yourself,” Schrems told AFP in his home city of Vienna.”

  • ComradeRutherford

    The Zuckerborgs say privacy is dead – except for themselves. Only the Zuckerborgs should be allowed to keep their information private. That seems perfectly reasonable. The Zuckerborgs should be allowed to sell your most intimate secrets, but they themselves should be the only ones allowed to keep their private data private. I’ll bet they don’t sell their data to advertisers!

    It’s exactly like Traditional Family Values Republicans who get standing ovations for brazenly violating everything they stand for.

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