Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Zuckerberg said it’s the government’s job to protect U.S. citizens from terrorism but also defend our freedoms and protect the economy.
“I think they did a bad job balancing those things here,” Zuckerberg said. “Frankly I think that the government blew it. They blew it on communicating the balance of what they were going for here with this.”
For instance, the government’s initial comments that it was not spying on Americans left confusion for global companies, Zuckerberg said.
“It was like – Oh wonderful, that’s really helpful to companies who are trying to serve people around the world, and really going to inspire confidence in American Internet companies,” Zuckerberg quipped. “It’s like, thanks for going out there and being clear about what you were doing.”
Facebook has been pushing the government to be more transparent about its actions, he added. The company, along with Google and Yahoo, this week filed suit asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for permission to publish more information about the requests it recieves from the government for user information.
Facebook last month released its first official government transparency report, revealing that U.S. government officials made up to 12,000 requests for user data in the first six months of 2013, far higher than any other country on the social network’s list.
Zuckerberg’s comments about the NSA leaks were part of a wide-ranging discussion that touched on everything from Yahoo’s new logo (which he said “seems fine”) and Bill Gates to Facebook’s initial public offering.
When asked what advice he would give to Twitter when proceeding with its own IPO, Zuckerbeg joked, “I’m the person you would want to ask last how to make a smooth IPO.” Though he acknowledged that Facebook had an “extremely turbulent” first year as a public company, Zuckerberg said it made the company “a lot stronger.”
“We run our company a lot better now,” he said. “In retrospect, I think I was too afraid of going public.”
Meanwhile, on the topic of Bill Gates, Zuckerberg said “he’s one of the greatest visionaries that our industry has ever had.” While Gates was at the helm of the Microsoft, the company made a “concrete change in the world.” Today, however, Microsoft has “lost some of the focus.”
Zuckerberg didn’t give too much away about what Facebook is planning, except that Instagram and other social content will soon be added to the Facebook Home lock screen. Users want more than just Facebook content on the lock screen, he said, so adding Instagram and other social services will make Facebook Home more valuable.
And while Facebook Home has been slow to catch on, Zuckerberg remains committed to the product. “We are just going to keep working on it until we get it right,” he said.