I finished a colossal article in the New Yorker on Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook magnate and self-proclaimed figurehead of the ‘Move Fast & Break Things’ camp. Written by Evan Osnos, the piece is a fascinating insight into the Silicon Valley giant and his inability to stay woke in the current culture.
Developed in the early noughties in Harvard dorm rooms, Facebook was a huge part of my young adult life. It was a way to stay in touch with friends and family around the world and more importantly to show the world who you were, where you’d been and how many friends you had under your belt. It left MySpace in the dust, a platform that allowed users to tailor their profile yet failed to offer ways to share and communicate with any immediacy.
There is a fascinating section on the crossroads Facebook found itself in 2007 when its growth plateaued, maxing out at around fifty million users, a predicament many other social networks had found themselves in. Ever the competitor, Zuckerberg dug his heels in, forming a special growth team to look into any and all outlets for breaking out of this bubble.
His ambitious plan led to an exponential rise in its global reach but as Osnos explains, such rampant expansion came at a cost. The rise of social engineering, “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology” as Sean Parker labelled it, attracted a darker element. In time certain elements, including Facebook, began to exploit this dependence for nefarious purposes.
While Osnos tries to distinguish Zuckerberg as being intrinsically different from the character portrayed in The Social Network (played by Jesse Eisenberg), I could hardly tell the difference. There is an elitist outlook to the millennial billionaire, a haughty type that lives to topple opponents like chess pieces.
It’s hard to believe Zuckerberg wants to genuinely help people. Instead his company — the only place he’s ever worked — seems to be intent on protecting their shareholders and ignoring our pleas to become a force for good.
As Tavis McGinn, a former research staffer at Facebook noted “I didn’t feel great about the product. I didn’t feel proud to tell people I worked at Facebook. I didn’t feel I was helping the world.”
With consistent slip ups like the Cambridge Analytica scandal and now its most recent data security breach a matter of days ago, it begs the question: does anyone give two hoots about the little guy?
I’ll let you mull that one over.