Zuckerberg seeks a patent on privacy software


See his patent application here. It’s a great idea. You create software that lets you extract only part of someone’s privacy and share it with advertisers, but you call it “dynamic privacy profiles.” So you sound like the good guy, looking out for the end users, because you really, really, really care about those end users. You really do. It’s totally Orwellian, totally Jeremy Bentham and the Panopticon, and even somewhat reminiscent of some of the work Pattie Maes has done around ambient intelligence and Sherry Turkle’s work on relational artifacts, which I’ve been reading lately and really finding intriguing, especially her application of Lacanian theory to the Internet and social media.

But I digress.

Sad fact is, we had this exact same idea for dynamic privacy at least two years ago, and David Filo said we should get a patent on it and I agreed and so we set up a committee to undertake the review over the course of two quarters and then draft a patent proposal and bring in the lawyers and get the thing taken care of over six or eight quarters … and somehow, somewhere along the line, someone dropped the ball. Now Zuckerberg has stolen our idea (plus ├ža change) probably after hiring one of our guys who took it with him when he joined Facebook. Rest assured, Yahoo shareholders, that we will learn from this mistake. I’ve asked David to assemble a committee to perform a review of how this happened and then to draw up a proposal for a plan we could implement over the next two or three quarters to avoid making the same mistake again.