With nearly 500 million users, Facebook has become one of the most successful startups in Internet history, and it now commands a $20 billion valuation. But Facebook's rise has also come with controversy, as the company has angered some users and privacy advocates for its frequent, confusing policy updates as well as occasional privacy breaches.
With Facebook booming and Internet privacy at the top of the agenda, veteran technology reporter David Kirkpatrick picked a great time to release his new book, The Facebook Effect, which goes on sale Tuesday.
Increasing Trend Toward Personal Openness
Kirkpatrick stopped by DailyFinance to discuss Facebook and its young CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, as well as Internet privacy and changing standards of public disclosure. Kirkpatrick, a self-described baby boomer, argues that Facebook is taking advantage of an increasing trend toward personal openness -- a trend it is simultaneously prodding forward. People are growing more comfortable sharing information about themselves, he suggests, as well as less judgmental about the disclosures of others.
"Bill Clinton smoked but did not inhale, and that was hugely shocking," says Kirkpatrick. "Barack Obama wrote in his autobiography that he did coke, and hardly anybody even noticed. So the attitudes are really shifting about personal disclosure."
"Inarguably, the world is moving toward a less fraught attitude towards stuff about us being known," says Kirkpatrick. "As more data proliferates about everything in the world, the incremental difference between a little bit more about me being known or not being known, it just matters less to me."
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