On June 4 I posted an article about my frustration with people like Mark Zuckerberg, and focused specifically on Mark and how his greed drives his ethical decisions. As a long term Silicon Valley guy, it bothers me a lot how he has had such a negative impact on meritocracy and fairness and the culture of the tech world. I’ll be writing a lot more about this in the next few weeks.
I received lots of feedback from that post, more than I expected, here and on LinkedIn, Reddit, etc. Most of the comments were positive, but some were pretty negative. Some people felt it was a “story of the week” and not worth making such a big deal out of a couple of headlines. “It will pass” they said. That was 3 weeks ago, and it didn’t pass. Since then, there has been a growing fury against developments for Facebook, none of them good.
It’s not just a “story of the week”; some are saying it will be Facebooks unravelling, a long anticipated fall from dominance.
For months Zuck dug his heels in, in the name of “free speech”. It looked suspiciously like he was actually taking the side of those who would make him the most money no matter how divisive their ads were.
6/26 Verizon Just Joined the Facebook Ad Boycott. Here's Why That Matters to You.
6/26 Facebook Market Value Plummets $56 Billion as Advertisers Flee Platform
How did he not think big advertisers would eventually pull their funding? A movement/hashtag against Facebook started last week #StopHateForProfit .
Can you imagine if you were the CEO of a company being targeting with at hashtag that includes the word “hate”. And these aren’t just Twitter trolls.
Then, just in the past 24 hours, as he saw his personal wealth drop by billions, he suddenly (partially) changed his tune:
6/26 Zuckerberg says Facebook will crack down on hate speech as ad boycott widens
6/26 Facebook scrambles to keep advertisers from jumping ship
6/27. Bowing to pressure, Facebook will start labelling violating posts from political advertisers
"The moves amount to major concessions amid public pressure, employee unrest and a burgeoning advertiser boycott over Facebook's long-standing refusal to more aggressively address hate speech and other platform violations from politicians such as President Trump."
As you can see, he was adamant about his “principles”, all the way up until this past week, when giant advertisers pulled out. When the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League pullout, he didn’t budge. But AFTER the biggest money pulled out in the past few days, he started talking about making changes.
Is he changing his position? Partially. He’s labelling them, not removing them, so they will still be visible, and Facebook (and Mark) can still get the revenue. He addressed the public on Friday for 11 minutes, and not once did he mention the boycott.
6/28 "Zuckerberg's address was 11 minutes of wasted opportunity to commit to change," tweeted Rashad Robinson, president of the civil rights group Color of Change
Too late. Self serving. Disingenuous. Half way.
Verizon, Unilever, Patagonia, Eddie Bauer, NAACP, Unilever have all cancelled their advertising, some through 2020.
Over the next weeks Mark will make some moves, to try to get his big advertisers back. Will he be able to change their minds? Some feel he is too powerful for them to stay away long. Will this finally force Facebook to change?
This article was supposed to be positive about Mark, and to highlight some of the positives of the product Facebook brought to the world.
I’ve been working on a series of article about early Facebook (2005-2010) and the way it changed society.
I’ll start publish those next week, but will intersperse these breaking news stories in between.