Facebook’s Zuckerberg: My bad

December 5, 2007

You can put the blame on me, as Akon would say.

Following a torrent of negative press and a user backlash, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stepped forward  and apologized for the social network’s mishandling of the Beacon controversy.  Now, Facebook users can turn off the feature that tracks their Web habits for friends to see.

Some 50,000 members blasted Facebook over the feature and signed a petition demanding that the feature be scaled back. Countless bloggers and columnists have lobbed criticism at Facebook.

Zuckerberg on his blog:

We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it.

It took us too long after people started contacting us to change the product so that users had to explicitly approve what they wanted to share,” Zuckerberg said. “Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.

But Zuckerberg and his nearly 4-year-old site may still not be in the clear.

Fortune’s Josh Quittner Facebook obit:

What’s harming Facebook – perhaps to a terminal degree – is enormously bad PR. For a social media company, these folks don’t understand the first thing about communication; they have alienated the press by being arrogant, aloof and dishonest. Their idea of press relations is sending a stupid message to a What’s New at Facebook Group that directs you to another website for a canned statement. 

And it is killing them. That bad press extends from the blogosphere to mainstream media. No one who writes about Facebook likes it anymore. And while that might seem insidery — who cares what the press thinks? — it’s having dire repercussions. For one thing, advertisers care what the press thinks. Bad press is causing advertisers to jump ship. And that’s begetting even more bad press. It’s the opposite of a virtuous circle; it’s an economy being undone.

So quickly we forget how just a few short weeks ago Microsoft bought a 1.6 percent stake that valued the company at $15 billion.

Is it time for an adult to run this company?

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