In a discussion with Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain, Zuckerberg said that Facebook has been a developer of cutting-edge private communication tools since the service's early days at Harvard, and that the company continues to focus on improving them.
"Thinking about Facebook as an innovator in privacy is certainly not the mainstream view," Zuckerberg said during the taped conversation, which was released publicly on Wednesday. "But going back to the very first thing that we did, making it so Harvard students could communicate in a way that they had some confidence that their content and information would be shared with only people within that community, there was no way that people had to communicate stuff at that scale but not have it either be just completely public or just as small as it had been before."
Zuckerberg's conversation with Zittrain was the first of his series of discussions about tech and society, following his New Year's resolution to help fix the industry.
Zuckerberg said that private communications using social networking platforms and ephemeral content like Stories are only getting more popular. Users send about 100 billion private messages per day across Facebook's platforms, which include WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, he said.
"When we talk about privacy, I think a lot of the questions are often about privacy policies and legal or policy type things," Zuckerberg said. "But I actually think there is another element of this that's really fundamental, which is that people want tools that give them new contexts to communicate and that's also fundamentally about giving people power through privacy, not just not violating privacy."