The young billionaire behind the world's most popular social network has admitted making more mistakes than he cared to think about in running Facebook.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the frank admission at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Tuesday. ''Basically, any mistake that you think you can make I've probably made or will make in the next few years,'' he said. But he argued that Facebook's popularity granted him a degree of leniency. "I think, if anything, the Facebook story is a great example of how if you're building a product that people love you can make a lot of mistakes, and I just think that for almost any industry or product that you're in it's just all about building products that people like. If you do that you can do so much other stuff wrong and like learn from that.''
In an hour-long on-stage interview, Mr. Zuckerberg also espoused the benefits of Facebook Messages, launched earlier this week. He said he expected communications to move away from the email model to an IM-like system such as Facebook Messages, which he described as ''a lot more natural''.
''When we kind of got started about how to build a messages product, we didn't come at it from the perspective of 'oh let's add email functionality'. We came at it from the perspective of 'let's take away everything that we can.'"
Moderator John Battelle also touched on user concerns over privacy, using Facebook Groups as an example. Facebook users can add their friends to groups without seeking permission.''People don't like being added to those [Facebook] groups in the first place. The question drew a sharp response from Mr. Zuckerberg. ''Well they can leave those groups,'' he said. Mr. Battelle later observed that Facebook tended to ask for forgiveness rather than permission from users. ''That seems to be a Facebook trait: that [you] keep pushing that envelope until 'oops, sorry."'
In an obvious dodge, Mr. Zuckerberg said Facebook's view is that being Facebook friends with someone gives that person the right to do certain things on your behalf, such as adding you to groups or tagging you in photos. ''Our view is that the friend relationship is meaningful." He also briefly summarised the Google-Facebook battle over data ownership, saying that ''everyone owns their own data and has the right to export it.''