NEW YORK: Facebook's billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls himself a "hacker".

For most people, that word means something malicious shady criminals who listen in on private voicemails, or anonymous villains who cripple websites and break into email accounts.

For Facebook, though, "hacker" means something different. It's an ideal that permeates the company's culture. It explains the push to try new ideas (even if they fail), and to promote new products quickly (even if they're imperfect). The hacker approach has made Facebook one of the world's most valuable Internet companies.

Hackers "believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete," Zuckerberg explains. "They just have to go fix it often in the face of people who say it's impossible or are content with the status quo."

Zuckerberg penned those words in a 479-word essay called "The Hacker Way", which he included in the document the company filed with government regulators about its plans for an initial public offering. The company is seeking $5 billion from investors in a deal that could value Facebook at as much as $100 billion.

The 27-year-old, who has a $28.4 billion stake in the stock deal, uses the H-word 12 times in the essay; "shareholder" appears just once. Should Zuckerberg have left those references out of his IPO manifesto, knowing full-well it could scare off potential investors? He could easily have described Facebook as "nimble" or "agile" instead.

"Symbolically, it doesn't bode well to Facebook and to potential investors," says Robert D'Ovidio, an associate professor of criminal justice at Drexel University in Philadelphia who studies computer crime. "I think it shows maybe an immaturity on his part. He should definitely know better."

By using the word, Zuckerberg is also trying to reclaim it. To him, Steve Jobs and the founders of many of the world's biggest technology companies were hackers.

"The word 'hacker' has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers," Zuckerberg writes. "In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done.