Skip to main content

Zuckerberg family photo goes viral after Facebook privacy settings confusion

The Zuckerbergs received a pile of irony as a holiday gift this year. Randi Zuckerberg, older sister of Facebook chief Mark and former marketing director for the social network, posted a photo on Christmas day to her private timeline, showing her family's overdramatised reactions to the social network's new Poke smartphone app.

It soon went viral, when Vox Media marketing director Callie Schweitzer, who subscribes to Zuckerberg's Facebook updates subscriber, posted the snapshot to her almost 40,000 Twitter followers without Zuckerberg's permission.

"Not sure where you got this photo," the former head of marketing for Facebook said in a tweeted response to Schweitzer. "I posted it only to friends on FB. You reposting it on Twitter is way uncool."

The 24-year-old Schweitzer swiftly apologised in a series of 140-character messages, saying that she's "just your subscriber and this was top of my newsfeed. Genuinely sorry but it came up in my feed and seemed public."

According to Forbes, the photo popped up on Schweitzer's feed because she is actually friends with one of the Zuckerbergs in the photo, and was able to see what was meant as a private photo because a friend was tagged in it.

"I think you saw it [because] you're friends [with] my sister (tagged)," Randi Zuckerberg wrote in a since-deleted tweet. "Thx for apology. I'm just sensitive to private photos becoming 'news.'"

It's certainly too late for that, since the photo and the Twitter exchange was originally picked up by Buzzfeed, then published on various news sites.

Schweitzer continued to apologise, adding via Twitter that "I would hate for a private photo of mine to be public and would never want to do the same to others. [For what it's worth], I thought the photo was incredibly endearing which is why I liked it. We never see humans on the Internet!"

This incident comes in the context of ever-changing Facebook privacy features, which most recently resulted in end-of-the-year updates which will include a drop-down menu with helpful options like "Who can see my stuff?" and "Who can contact me?" as well as "How do I stop someone from bothering me?"

Facebook's stand-alone mobile app Poke, which was at the heart of this scandal, was released last week, offering users yet another way to chat with friends while on the go. The poke feature has been available since 2004, but the new application lets people send photos, video, or text messages to Facebook friends which then expire after a set time: one, three, five, or 10 seconds.

The app is billed as a direct threat to Snapchat, an iOS app that sends content, including hand-drawn messages, which last only a few seconds. Both applications allow users to "poke" one or more friends at a time.