Facebook tries to boost shaky image as it passes 500 million users

Mark Zuckerberg touts positive Facebook stories to combat bad press

Facebook's public image has taken a beating lately from privacy complaints, "abysmal" customer satisfaction ratings, and an upcoming movie that paints CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a negative light.

But Facebook's Zuckerberg tried to combat the company's shaky public image today as he announced that, as expected, the site has reached 500 million users worldwide.

While many users have expressed dissatisfaction with the site, individual complaints clearly haven't driven people away from Facebook in any large numbers. Zuckerberg emphasized the positive impacts of Facebook in a blog post, video, and with the unveiling of a new "Facebook Stories" site in which people can share their own experiences with the social networking site.

"Half a billion is a nice number but the number isn't what really matters here," Zuckerberg said. "What matters is all the stories we hear from all of you about the impact your connections have had on your lives."

I've been getting an error message when I navigate to the "Stories" site, but presumably that's just a temporary problem. One person who commented on Zuckerberg's blog post also reported getting the message "the page you requested was not found."

Some of the stories touted by Zuckerberg include a Phoenix mother "who credits a friend's status message telling women to check for breast cancer with her being diagnosed in time to treat the disease," and the Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who would go on jogs with 100 of his Facebook fans.

"Hearing these kinds of stories is especially gratifying. I would never have imagined most of them when I started Facebook just six years ago," Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg has been forced into the public eye more than he has been accustomed to lately, writing a column in the Washington Post defending Facebook's privacy policies, and agreeing to an interview with Diane Sawyer.

If I may state the obvious, here are two predictions: People will keep complaining about Facebook until the end of time. And almost nobody will disable their accounts. 

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