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Image: Mark Zuckerberg
Paul Sakuma  /  AP file
Facebook.com's 23-year-old CEO Mark Zuckerberg sort of apologized for invading the privacy of the social networking site's users.
Helen Popkin
By
msnbc.com
updated 12/6/2007 8:29:45 PM ET 2007-12-07T01:29:45

Here’s the thing about apologies.

Frequently people who issue them are indeed sorry. They’re sorry you’re mad at them. They’re sorry they got caught. They’re sorry that they must now covertly resort to that same bad behavior lest they get busted again. And as anyone who ever raised and/or dated one knows, nobody is guiltier of the insincere apology than dudes in their early 20s. 

(Ladies, am I right?)

Why then are concerned parties such as activist group MoveOn.org so ready to accept the recent “ my bad ” from 23-year-old Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over his social networking site’s privacy-invading Beacon program? Markedly, Computer Associates found that Facebook still tracks your Web moves, even if you “opt out,” log out, or delete your profile from Facebook entirely.

If anything, anyone who engages Facebook, let alone the Internet, should be warier than ever of the many ways one’s personal information is bandied about by the companies with which it comes into contact. Face it, kids. Facebook isn’t the first site to get all up in our business . It may not even be the skeeviest.

If one were to adopt a positive attitude commiserate with the holiday season , one could at least hope this latest Facebook customer relations fiasco snapped passive users awake to the many ways their privacy is plundered. Especially since so many of us are so okay with actively posting our intimate details online, we let our kids do it too.

Failing that, maybe it’ll just force a personal honesty on those who use the Internet to present themselves as something they are not. The first person who might do well to consider this new tack on honest living through technology is Zuckerberg.

Note: This is the guy who’s behind the site that’s happy to share your personal info with or without your permission. Yet he recently went to the court in a failed effort to get his own embarrassing stuff InterWeb redacted.

“About a month ago, we released a new feature called Beacon to try to help people share information with their friends about things they do on the web,” Zuckerberg wrote in a long-awaited statement finally released December 5 on the Facebook blog.

"We've made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we've made even more with how we've handled them.”

Yeah yeah yeah. Now, regarding the aforementioned fake apology, Zuckerberg writes: “When we first thought of Beacon, our goal was to build a simple product to let people share information across sites with their friends.”

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Then Zuckerberg continues to (metaphorically speaking) urinate on our heads and tell us it’s raining. “We were excited about Beacon because we believe a lot of information people want to share isn't on Facebook, and if we found the right balance, Beacon would give people an easy and controlled way to share more of that information with their friends.”

OMG! How is that so not a lie? Does Zuckerberg mean to imply that Beacon was not born first and foremost a money-generating marketing program, designed specifically for marketers, with cursory consideration toward the marks?

Is it so hard to state something along the lines of, “In our attempt to generate money, which is the raison d'etre of most every business, we did a dumb thing? Here, have a donut .jpg on us.” Why insult users with the sulky sob story, “But…but…but…don’t be so angry! We were doing it for yeeeewwwwwwww!”

Maybe it’s better for our insides to just be gracious in a victory, like MoveOn.org, which called Facebook’s recent privacy change "a big step in the right direction."

Then there’s Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, who said, "Facebook is learning that privacy matters.”

Now, if only users could learn the same thing. The facts are these: Despite the big media dust up, Facebook didn’t lose many profiles in its wake. The MoveOn Facebook protest collected only 70,000 members — barely a drop in the bucket compared to the site’s 50 million users, most of which really couldn’t care less.

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