US spy revelations hurt Web trust: Facebook chief

Sep 18, 2013
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Newseum September 18, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Revelations about the US government's secret surveillance programs has had a big impact on "trust metrics" of Internet companies like Facebook, the social network chief Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday.

Speaking at a Washington forum, Zuckerberg said Facebook would keep pressing for more transparency about the National Security Agency programs disclosed in recent months believed to collect vast amounts of data on Internet users.

Zuckerberg said Facebook keeps a close eye on "trust metrics," or how users feel about the company over time, and that the revelations about the NSA PRISM program had a major impact on trust.

"There's a lot of times we will put a statement out (on issues), and that stuff tends not to move the needle on trust. The NSA stuff did," he told the forum sponsored by The Atlantic magazine.

"The trust metrics... went down when PRISM came out, so this is a really big deal."

Facebook and other Internet firms have filed court petitions seeking to disclose more information about the role of the companies in the NSA program, in the hopes this would ease concerns among Internet users.

"The more transparency there is, the better everyone would feel about it," he said.

"From reading all the press you couldn't get a sense whether the number of the requests the government makes is closer to a thousand or closer to 100 million."

He said Facebook's "transparency report" indicated it received "on the order of 9,000" requests for data from officials in the United States, but the company was not allowed to disclose how many of these were national security requests.

Zuckerberg declined to comment on the value of the in protecting the nation.

"I don't know all the things they are doing to protect our safety," he said.

"My general belief is that the more transparent they are about what they are doing, the more comfortable the public will be about it."

The comments were less harsh than a week earlier, when Zuckerberg appeared at a California conference.

"It is our government's job to protect all of us and also protect our freedoms and protect the economy and protect companies," he said at the San Francisco event. "Frankly, I think the government blew it."

Zuckerberg said he was in Washington to press immigration reform through his advocacy group Fwd.us.

He said he did not want to separate the debate on immigration for "high skills" people sought in the tech sector from the broader question of undocumented immigrants, estimated at 11 million.

"It's a much bigger problem than the high skills piece," he said. "Eleven million people are being treated unfairly."

Explore further: UN moves to strengthen digital privacy (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Facebook CEO says IPO made company stronger

Sep 12, 2013

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn't really want to take his company public last year, but he has changed his mind now that the Internet social network's stock is steadily rising.

Google, Facebook condemn online spying

Jun 08, 2013

Google chief Larry Page and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg condemned online spying Friday and called for governments to be more revealing about snooping on the Internet.

Recommended for you

UN moves to strengthen digital privacy (Update)

7 hours ago

The United Nations on Tuesday adopted a resolution on protecting digital privacy that for the first time urged governments to offer redress to citizens targeted by mass surveillance.

Spotify turns up volume as losses fall

7 hours ago

The world's biggest music streaming service, Spotify, announced Tuesday its revenue grew by 74 percent in 2013 while net losses shrank by one third, in a year of spectacular expansion.

Virtual money and user's identity

14 hours ago

Bitcoin is the new money: minted and exchanged on the Internet. Faster and cheaper than a bank, the service is attracting attention from all over the world. But a big question remains: are the transactions ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.