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Mark Zuckerberg speaks at BYU, calls Facebook "as much psychology and sociology as it is technology"

By Chase Larson

Deseret News

Published: Friday, March 25 2011 1:39 p.m. MDT

Despite all of the company's successes and a reserved, earnest Zuckerberg, the questions Hatch read carefully tiptoed around Facebook's past legal battles and somewhat murky history in its creation, made more controversial with the implications presented in this fall's opening of "The Social Network," a film based on Ben Mezrich's book, "The Accidental Billionaires."

Former Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss along with Divya Narendra filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg in 2004, accusing him of stealing their idea for a social networking site originally called HarvardConnection.com but later changed to ConnectU.

The case settled in 2008 and Facebook paid them $20 million in cash and over $1.2 million in shares.

Another criticism of Facebook Zuckerberg did address, however, is the common concern regarding privacy and oversharing of personal information in a public forum.

"If you go back 10 years, a lot of people were afraid of sharing things on the Internet," he said. "One of the things that initially got people comfortable is that we offer extremely robust privacy controls. A lot of folks now understand they know where their information is going. …We're really focused on safety, especially children's safety … We really try to build a safe environment."

Facebook is trying to maintain that sense of privacy by simplifying its privacy controls and continually creating new innovations that protect users' information, Zuckerberg said. Now, for example, if you log into your account from an unusual place, the site will ask you personal questions or show you pictures of friends that only the real user would recognize.

On a more positive, social scale, Zuckerberg said the implications of Facebook stretch beyond simple local interactions and into fostering understanding between countries. One of Facebook's engineers put together a website, peace.facebook.com, which tracks the online relationships between countries, including those that are historically at odds with one another.

As far as his advice to budding entrepreneurs goes, Zuckerberg foregoes technical prowess and recommends truly loving and believing in whatever you're doing since you'll inevitably encounter a lot of challenges along the way and it will become the seemingly "rational thing for you to stop" if you don't.

"Find that thing you're super passionate about," he said. "A lot of the founding principles of Facebook are that if people have access to more information and are more connected it will make the world better; people will have more understanding; more empathy. That's the guiding principle for me. On hard days, I really just step back and that's the thing that keeps me going."

Email: clarson@desnews.com

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