Don't Worry, the Zuckerbergs Don't Understand Facebook's Privacy Settings Either

Understanding Facebook’s privacy settings is notoriously difficult. Facebook’s services are constantly evolving (wait, we’re “poking” each other again?), therefore by nature altering which privacy settings alter what aspect of the service, and of course the privacy settings and policies themselves are always in flux. To say it’s a moving target is an understatement, and frankly, we’ve completely given up trying to stay on top of it.

If you feel like a newb because you can no longer explain to your mom how to keep this or that private on Facebook don’t feel bad--it’s a bit of a mystery to Mark Zuckerberg’s own kin, too.

Mark’s sister Randi snapped a photo of the family supposedly reacting to the new Poke app and posted it to Facebook--to friends only. A woman named Callie Schweitzer saw the photo in her own Facebook timeline and Tweeted it. Randi was displeased that Schweitzer posted it and told her so--publicly, we might add, on Twitter. Schweitzer seemed genuinely sorry and stated that as a subscriber of Randi’s on Facebook, she saw it her newsfeed and figured it was public. In the end, Randi figured that Schweitzer probably saw it because another Zuckerberg sibling, who is actually friends with Schweitzer, was tagged in it. The issue between them seems to be resolved at this point.

Zuckerberg family

To be fair to Randi Zuckerberg, we don’t really think she looks that bad in this; while it’s giggle-worthy that Mark’s own sister isn’t clear on how to keep her Facebook posts private, that really reflects poorly on the Facebook team, not on Randi herself.

Of course, this little gaff does serve to underscore some of the problems inherent in privacy and social media. It’s incredibly complicated to strike the right balance between the two, both for the reasons we mentioned above and also because everyone has different ideas about what should be private and what shouldn’t.

Zuckerberg Tweet

On the one hand, for example, so what if Randi’s picture is now circulating the Web? It’s actually kind of a sweet photo, showing family members having a nice time at a get-together. (And Mark’s expression is priceless. Are they teasing him about the app?) On the other hand, there are five people in the photo who probably didn’t want that picture to become freely distributed, and it should be their right to prevent that from happening. (Er...right? Or should we stop pretending that in a world where almost every single person has a camera in their pocket, we’ll never be in a publicly-distributed photo involuntarily?)

Pro tip: When in doubt, always remember that if you don’t want something to get around, don’t post it online.