Mark Zuckerberg's grand missive: The translation

The Facebook CEO wrote a long explanation of some recent modifications to the site. But what is he really saying? Here are CNET's not-entirely-serious translations.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put out an "open letter" to the site's massive membership on Tuesday, explaining the site's revised privacy controls that are finally going into effect after being announced this summer, and additionally announcing the milestone that the site has reached 350 million active users around the world.

But CEOs are notoriously deft with spin, and Zuckerberg is a clever fellow. So, luckily, CNET has translated his entire letter for you! In italics are Zuckerberg's words. Below are the ones we found to be an appropriate substitution after extensive research, experimentation, and a little inspiration from a fluffy-white-cat-stroking supervillain.

It begins.

It has been a great year for making the world more open and connected. Thanks to your help, more than 350 million people around the world are using Facebook to share their lives online.

What he means: "We are taking over the freaking world. Eat it, MySpace ."

To make this possible, we have focused on giving you the tools you need to share and control your information. Starting with the very first version of Facebook five years ago, we've built tools that help you control what you share with which individuals and groups of people. Our work to improve privacy continues today.

What he means: "I KNOW ALL YOUR SECRETS. But I promise I won't tell that ex-girlfriend of yours whom you chucked onto Limited Profile setting after she dumped you even though I totally know you check up on her profile every three days because I know everything. Have you met my fluffy white cat?" OK, well, maybe that's a little bit fanciful.

Facebook's current privacy model revolves around "networks"--communities for your school, your company or your region. This worked well when Facebook was mostly used by students, since it made sense that a student might want to share content with their fellow students.

Over time people also asked us to add networks for companies and regions as well . Today we even have networks for some entire countries, like India and China.

What he means: "Some of my Harvard classmates wanted to brag that they get to live in Buenos Aires or Sydney. Or that they wanted to find hot girls who lived nearby. That worked for a while."

However, as Facebook has grown, some of these regional networks now have millions of members and we've concluded that this is no longer the best way for you to control your privacy. Almost 50 percent of all Facebook users are members of regional networks, so this is an important issue for us. If we can build a better system, then more than 100 million people will have even more control of their information.

The plan we've come up with is to remove regional networks completely and create a simpler model for privacy control where you can set content to be available to only your friends, friends of your friends, or everyone.

What he means: "I could be deceptively upfront and say that this was just getting messy and that it makes little sense for millions of you with only a passport in common to be grouped under the same label. But let's be honest. I am simply preparing you for the day in the not-so-distant future when you all willfully renounce your national affiliations and become citizens of the Grand Republic of Facebook. And I shall be your Fearless Leader. Did I mention I own a white fluffy cat?"

We're adding something that many of you have asked for--the ability to control who sees each individual piece of content you create or upload. In addition, we'll also be fulfilling a request made by many of you to make the privacy settings page simpler by combining some settings. If you want to read more about this, we began discussing this plan back in July .

What he means: "It's taken a while to get this out of the gates. But you'll dig it. When we launched privacy controls that let you see who sees what on your profile, a lot of you already had big friends lists (because you are totally addicted to my brilliant creation). So we're making it all less messy. And now you'll also be able to be more specific about controls on content, like letting your mom have access to the 'note' where you talk about how much you love her chocolate chip cookies but not the one where you ask for all your friends' phone numbers because you got crunked and dropped your iPhone in the toilet.

More importantly, this means that I can hand-pick which of you get to see each video of my white fluffy cat that I upload. Wait till you see the one where he chases a laser pointer! YouTube would die for it!"

Since this update will remove regional networks and create some new settings, in the next couple of weeks we'll ask you to review and update your privacy settings. You'll see a message that will explain the changes and take you to a page where you can update your settings. When you're finished, we'll show you a confirmation page so you can make sure you chose the right settings for you. As always, once you're done you'll still be able to change your settings whenever you want.

What he means: "We know the indoctrination process can take some time. So we'll be patient with you, minions."

We've worked hard to build controls that we think will be better for you, but we also understand that everyone's needs are different. We'll suggest settings for you based on your current level of privacy, but the best way for you to find the right settings is to read through all your options and customize them for yourself. I encourage you to do this and consider who you're sharing with online."

What he means: "The press loves to write about it when some numb skull puts all his Halloween party photos on Facebook and his boss sees them and sacks him. And that scares everybody and makes Facebook look less like the future of the open and connected social graph and more like an oozing vat of scandal and danger. I don't want that and neither does my white fluffy cat. So, please don't be stupid."

Thanks for being a part of making Facebook what it is today, and for helping to make the world more open and connected.

What he means: "My work here is complete. Now, Elliot , have you located the map of all the air vents in Twitter's new headquarters that are large enough to accommodate a mutant panther-raccoon hybrid?"

Disclaimer: CNET is unable to confirm whether Mark Zuckerblofeld, uh, I mean Mark Zuckerberg, actually owns a white fluffy cat.

Also, this post is not intended to be taken seriously.

Tags:
Tech Culture
About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Looking for an affordable tablet?

CNET rounds up high-quality tablets that won't break your wallet.