A Few Good Facebook Men

Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher interviewed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on stage today at the D8 conference. Reading the live blogging of Walt trying to get a clear answer from Mark about privacy settings, I couldn’t help but flash to that that great courtroom scene in “A Few Good Men.” What if Mark suddenly went all Jack Nicholson in an explosion of defiance? How might that go? Well…

Walt: I’ll ask for the second time. Why are you making me have to take steps to protect my information?

Mark: You want answers?

Walt: I think we’re entitled to them.

Mark: You want answers!

Walt: I want the truth!

Mark: You can’t handle the truth!

Kara: You look hot in that hoodie. Want to take it off?

Mark: Walt, we live in a Facebook world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded against Google. Who’s gonna do it? You? Kara?

I have a greater responsibility that you can possibly fathom. You weep that privacy settings have been changed and curse Facebook. You have that luxury.

You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, everything about everyone on Facebook. And that while the death of privacy, while tragic, probably makes lives better. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, lets people connect.

You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about, at parties, you want me opting people into stuff on their wall. You need me there.

We use words like “social graph,” “like” and “fan page” … we use these words as the backbone to a service that helps socialize. You use ’em as a punchline.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to the people who share and like things under the blanket of the very social network I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it.

I’d prefer if you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you change your privacy settings to whatever you want or just kill your account.

Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to.

Walt: Did you push people too hard into sharing? Should you have let them opt-out?

Mark: I did the job needed to reduce friction.

Walt: Did you push them too far!

Mark: You’re goddamn right I did!


Kara: The Facebook mission statement is printed in the hood of this hoodie. You’re a cult!

Walt: If it please the audience, I suggest we all be dismissed so we can share our reactions to this on Facebook.

Techmeme has a round-up of the live blogging here. If you want to understand more about all those privacy settings, see my article from last week, Drill (Down), Baby, Drill: Facebook’s New “Simple” Privacy Settings Still Pretty Complex. I do think Facebook’s moving in the right direction, so I hope this is taken with good humor. My apologies also to Aaron Sorkin for messing with his screenplay.