Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has praised Snapchat for creating a new niche for social media communication, calling it a "super interesting privacy phenomenon".
Zuckerberg made the remarks during an interview with Stanford University president John Hennessy on Tuesday night at the school's Palo Alto, California, campus. The talk, covered by TechCrunch, touched on many subjects, including NSA surveillance and the lack of venture capital funding for multi-billion-dollar public projects.
When the discussion turned to Snapchat - a company Facebook reportedly offered to buy for $3 billion last year - Zuckerberg offered a historical perspective, noting instant messaging offered a way to communicate between groups and blogs provided a way to share publicly. However, before Facebook, there was nothing in between.
"A lot of times you're not comfortable communicating it publicly, and maybe it's just not worth communicating it to a small set or that's not the full potential of what you want to communicate so you just don't do it. It just gets lost," he said.
Zuckerberg didn't appear to acknowledge the fact that Facebook users might feel less comfortable sharing on Facebook lately since the company recently made most users searchable on the site. Though users can employ groups to exchange private status updates on Facebook, a common perception is that whatever you write there will be on the site forever, and all your Facebook friends will see it.
Though Facebook has attempted to address that issue - and head off the phenomenal success of Snapchat - with its failed Snapchat clone Poke, Zuckerberg hinted there were more such innovations to come.
"Snapchat is a super interesting privacy phenomenon because it creates a new kind of space to communicate, which makes it so that things that people previously would not have been able to share, you now feel like you have place to do so," he said. "That's really important, and that's a big kind of innovation that we're going to keep pushing on and keep trying to do more on, and I think a lot of other companies will, too."
It's not clear what kind of "innovation" Facebook could introduce in this area, but clearly the company sees private communication as an unmet consumer need that may transcend a single app.
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