Facebook CEO: “We’ve Made a Bunch of Mistakes”

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RICK WILKING/Reuters/Corbis

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg finally admits his company botched its latest set of changes. Are new privacy controls to come?

In an e-mail to tech blogger Robert Scoble on Sunday, Zuckerberg seemed contrite, admitting that Facebook could have handled the rollout of its latest products better. “I know we’ve made a bunch of mistakes, but my hope at the end of this is that the service ends up in a better place and that people understand that our intentions are in the right place and we respond to the feedback from the people we serve,” Zuckerberg wrote.

In April, Facebook introduced new pieces of its Facebook Platform, including a “Like” button to gather user preferences from across the Web and a feature called “Instant Personalization”, which let sites like Yelp! and Pandora use Facebook data to customize your experience on the site.

But in the aftermath, consumer advocacy groups and individual users have slammed Facebook hard, questioning the company’s opaqueness in how this new data is used, as well as Facebook’s tendency to make confusing privacy controls and opt-in users automatically to new services (“Instant Personalization” being the example here). It’s put Facebook on the defensive, although executives (with Zuckerberg now included) have hinted strongly toward revisions coming soon.

This meshes with what I heard from the company in reporting my Facebook feature last week. While officials were mum on the timing and scope of the changes, they indicated that enhanced privacy controls were in the pipeline. While they cautioned that the details were still being figured out, they were confident the changes would silence a wave of criticism (and, potentially, a date in front of the Federal Trade Commission.)

Tick, tock, Facebook. Quit Facebook Day is but a week away.

Update: Zuckerberg’s damage control continues. He wrote an op-ed in today’s Washington Post.