Facebook exec tells users: lump it or leave

Facebook’s privacy chief has rejected criticism of recent changes at the social network.

The rebuttal came in a Q&A session conducted by Facebook's vice-president for public policy, Elliot Schrage, with readers of the New York Times on Tuesday.

Schrage called the session "a painful but productive exercise", but appeared to side-step much of the criticism levelled at the social network, saying: "If you’re not comfortable sharing, don't."

Schrage put the discontent expressed by many users down to a failure on the part of Facebook to communicate recent changes properly, saying: "Clearly, we need to rethink the tempo of change and how we communicate it. Trust me. We’ll do better."

But to many readers, Schrage's defence appeared threadbare. When asked why users could no longer control many aspects of the information about them that were made public, Schrage countered: "Joining Facebook is a conscious choice by vast numbers of people who have stepped forward deliberately and intentionally to connect and share."

The response, in short, was lump it or leave.

"Everything is opt-in on Facebook," Schrage told irritated readers. "Participating in the service is a choice."

When asked what information he personally chose to share, Schrage admitted to making full use of the difficult-to-find privacy settings Facebook offered, keeping his updates tightly restricted to friends and family.

In an admission that will alam those disgruntled users who have removed themselves from the social network in the last few weeks, Schrage revealed that even when a user has taken the fiddly step of deleting (rather than deactivating) their account, their messages and comments would remain, attributed to an anonymous Facebook user.