Facebook CTO Bret Taylor says that the social network’s original audience, college students, are still its power users.
Taylor was explaining why it’s so hard to share information between Facebook and Google.
Some background: Google has long been frustrated by the fact that Facebook users can’t easily port their information into Google services. So last year, it cut off the ability to export Gmail contact info into Facebook.
Taylor said Facebook isn’t just being difficult.
Rather, users have different privacy expectations with different kinds of services — on Facebook, they may expect contact information in their profiles to be shared with their friends, while in an email contacts service (like Gmail) they probably expect it to remain private.
Questioner John Battelle pressed him a bit, wondering if Facebook users even know what their privacy settings are.
“The majority of people on Facebook have modified their privacy settings,” said Taylor. “If you talk to a college student, they know exactly what their parents can see and can’t see, exactly what their ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend can and can’t see.”
Taylor actually considers college students to be Facebook’s core power users: “The reason your mum is on Facebook is because you’re on Facebook.”
Taylor also gave grudging respect to Google+.
“To me it’s interesting, it’s pretty validating for a lot of what we’ve been trying to convince the world of, which is products are better when they’re social.” He agrees with Google’s approach of adding social layers to all Google properties: “It’s not just a destination, but an integration into a lot of properties. Social isn’t just a thing you build, it’s a design philosophy.”