Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, made an unlikely duo. But the conservative senator insisted the two are friends.
Though Zuckerberg is probably not a conservative, Hatch said that he convinced the social-networking mogul to make a rare appearance last week at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
“It was to get [Zuckerberg] to finally accept me as a friend,” the senator joked.
Zuckerberg addressed about 10,000 people at the school.
“It’s an honor to be here with all of you guys today,” Zuckerberg said. “I have never spoken to a stadium full of people.”
Today, about 600 million people use the social network Zuckerberg built while attending Harvard. He spoke about what it took to create one of the most influential websites on the Internet.
“I think a lot of what we’re doing is as much sociology and psychology as it is technology,” he told the audience.
According to Zuckerberg, “you can really build a company like this anywhere in the world.”
“I think you have to really love and believe in what you’re doing,” Zuckerberg said. “There will be huge challenges that you face.”
“Most people have something that they’re super passionate about and I would just encourage you guys to all find that thing,” he added.
Zuckerberg was joined in the discussion by Hatch. The senator asked Zuckerberg a series of questions submitted by people online.
Privacy and security
Concerned about privacy issues and safety, Hatch asked Zuckerberg about “the dark side of the Internet.”
“If you go back 10 years, a lot of people were really afraid of sharing information on the Internet,” Zuckerberg replied.
However, Facebook’s “robust privacy controls” have convinced many users to let down their guard, he explained.
“A lot of folks now feel they understand where their information is going and they feel comfortable,” Zuckerberg said. “We really try to maintain a safe environment.”
Despite rumors, Facebook never sells users’ information, he stressed.
“There is sometimes a misunderstanding,” Zuckerberg said. “No information is ever sold. No information ever goes to advertisers.”
Role of Facebook in social affairs
As governments around the world have been overthrown, participants carried out parts of those revolutions using Facebook.
Those who envisioned the website several years ago discussed the role Facebook may have on global affairs.
“We used to go out and get pizza and hang out and talk about how different the world was going to be,” Zuckerberg said. “It starts off with giving people the ability to communicate in ways they didn’t have before.”
There may soon be a billion users on Facebook, Hatch said.
“It’s all over the world,” the senator told SEO.com. “It’s hard to find anyone these days who hasn’t used Facebook.”
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook has even helped facilitate friendships between people in countries with “historically tense relationships.”
Some of the relationships are documented at peace.facebook.com.
“I just have to think that over the long term, that’s going to create more understanding between countries,” Zuckerberg said.
Meanwhile, he said that Facebook has also forced business owners to more closely communicate with their customers.
“You will start to see some disruption in how people relate to businesses,” Zuckerberg said. “Businesses can’t just hide behind some corporate veil anymore.”
But Hatch asked Zuckerberg whether bumping into advertisements while perusing Facebook turns users off.
“I think everyone likes the service being free,” Zuckerberg replied.
Facebook will also continue providing platforms for independent entrepreneurs to create applications for the social-networking website.
“There is this huge opportunity for disruption in any arena that you might be passionate about,” he said.
See previous coverage: Senator says Zuckerberg 'No. 1 attraction in whole high tech world'