by Elana Varon

Give the Kid a Break

Dec 05, 20072 mins
Enterprise Applications

So Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally admitted that he screwed up his implementation of Beacon. Apologies get a bad rap these days (for good reason), and a lot of Facebook’s critics are having none of it. They’re right to stay focused on what Zuckerberg actually does to address users’ privacy complaints. But I think we should give Zuckerberg a little credit.

Agree with him or not, Zuckerberg is taking risks and trying to craft a new business model for a market in which he’s a pioneer. None of us really know the full potential of social networking-and expectations for Facebook are running so high that there’s plenty of opportunity for it to crash and burn. And it will, if customers don’t trust him.

As my colleague Kim Nash commented on Robert Scoble’s blog , Zuckerberg ought to get at least a few points for experimenting and then adjusting course when customers pushed back. Innovation is a bloody mess much of the time. Facebook is a work in progress-not just for Zuckerberg, but also for users. Drivers of the first automobiles had to wear goggles and cover-ups to keep the bugs out of their eyes and the mud off their clothes. And there weren’t any stop lights, either.

I happen to like Facebook. But I also like to have a say over what other people know about me. I signed’s petition against Beacon, and I’ve blocked the app for good measure. There’s evidence, beyond this brouhaha, that most people want both disclosure of how their personal information is used and control over what they reveal.

There’s a leadership opportunity here, if Zuckerberg can recognize it and run with it.