What is The Root of All (Facebook) Evil?

Category: Facebook

Facebook is here to stay, for better and worse. But its majority owner and hapless, callow leader has got to go. Mark Zuckerberg is the source of all that is wrong with Facebook, and the world cannot afford to wait indefinitely for him to change for the better. What would it take to move Facebook from autocracy to democracy? Read on for my analysis of why this MUST happen...

Mark Zuckerberg Must Go!

Since Facebook’s debut (as “The Facebook”) in 2004, it has grown to over 2 billion members and has annual revenues exceeding $40 billion. Zuckerberg, at age 33, is the sixth richest guy in the world with a net worth just shy of $70 billion. Why should Zuckerberg change? I am not asking rhetorically. We need to give him a very good reason to change his job, at least; his sociopathic personality is the purview of medicine.

One characteristic of Sociopathic Personality Disorder is the inability to share or respect the fundamental moral values of society. Mark Zuckerberg exhibits this trait. He truly does not understand what is wrong about stealing, or lying, or taking predatory advantage of trust, or treating human beings’ personal data as a profitable commodity like wheat or tin. He has plainly demonstrated this sociopathic trait since his first stab at making a facebook, when he was a sophomore at Harvard College in 2003.

At that time, Harvard administrators were developing a campus-wide “face book,” an online catalog of students’ photographs and biographical data. The campus-wide face book would unite existing similar online systems organized at the dormitory (“residence hall) level. Administrators had been wrestling with the design of this system for several years. One of the major hold-ups was – you guessed it – privacy considerations.

Zuckerberg - One BILLION dollars!

It is one thing to give students who live under one roof access to photos and bios of their immediate neighbors. It is another thing to let any of Harvard’s 20,000-plus students access the same data about everyone else. It is a far more dangerous thing to let anyone on the Internet access that data. The delay in implementing a campus-wide face book was largely due to heated debate about how to protect students’ privacy while helping them get to know each other.

A number of students grew impatient with the project’s glacial progress, including Mark Zuckerberg. So he hacked into the residence face books and stole the photos and bios of his fellow students. I say “stole” because he “gained unauthorized access” to the data and asked no one’s permission to copy and use it, least of all his fellow students who clearly had an interest in such uses.

History Repeats Itself

Does any of this sound familiar? It should, because such misappropriation – theft – of people’s personal data has occurred over and over again throughout Facebook’s history. Or, more likely, it has been continuous and unrelenting, but authorities have only occasionally caught Zuckerberg at it.

One such occasion happened in 2007, when Facebook – which is synonymous with Zuckerberg - settled a Federal Trade Commission complaint that the company “deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public,” according to the FTC’s press release announcing the settlement.

The personal data that Zuckerberg stole from Harvard and his fellow students was quickly published in a reprehensible manner. By his own admission, he personally wrote the software for a site named “Facemash.com.” It displayed to visitors two female students’ photos side-by-side and let the visitor rate them according to their relative and absolute “attractiveness.” An algorithm, which was the progenitor of today’s mysterious Facebook algorithm, ranked the winners and losers of each “contest” and assigned each student a score that represented how “attractive” she was.

“FaceMash was a prank website that I launched in college, in my dorm room, before I started Facebook,” Zuckerberg said to Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) during his testimony before the Energy and Commerce Committee in April, 2018. He rejected the assertion that Facemash was the seed from which Facebook sprouted, although he did not deny the two were created at about the same time.

That looks like a lie, to put it cogently. The November 19, 2003, issue of The Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper, tells a very different story.

Facemash remained online for two weeks, far longer than a “drunken prank” might be expected to continue. “The programming and algorithms that made the site function were Zuckerberg’s primary interest in creating it,” he said, according to The Crimson.

After he created the site, Zuckerberg sent its URL to some friends who quickly shared it. The link found its way onto several campus email list-serves and traffic skyrocketed from that exposure. In a single day, 450 people voted 22,000 times.

No Remorse...

Zuckerberg displayed none of the remorse that a normal sober person would about his prank. He had no qualms about breaking and entering into Harvard’s computer network; no qualms about stealing fellow students’ personal data; no qualms about the despicable purpose of his “programming and algorithm.” He only regretted that Facemash had been seen by everyone, and that they did not approve.

After taking well-deserved heat from all sides for two weeks, Zuckerberg only took down Facemash the day before he was officially summoned to a disciplinary hearing, where Harvard’s computing services department accused him of “breaching security, violating copyrights and violating individual privacy...” To quote The Crimson:

“’I understood that some parts were still a little sketchy and I wanted some more time to think about whether or not this was really appropriate to release to the Harvard community,’ Zuckerberg wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson.”

He concluded that he could not get away with Facemash. “Issues about violating people’s privacy don’t seem to be surmountable,” he wrote. You see? “Issues about privacy” are pesky things to be overcome, in his mind. There should not be any privacy “issues” if they are going to interfere with Mark doing what Mark wants to do.

Some would plead that Zuckerberg was “just a kid” at the time of Facemash, and that he has grown, matured, changed in the past 15 years. I remind them that this guy – the chief executive of the most powerful tech company ever – still dresses out of a closet full of gray t-shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes at the age of 33. He has not “grown up.” He will not change in any significant way.

What he has changed is his ability to pretend to be mature, thoughtful, compassionate, human. He now has plenty of adults around him to support that illusion, at least at work. In his personal life, not so much.

Zuckerberg bought 700 acres of the Hawaiian island of Kauai, built a $100 million mansion on the land, and promptly sued hundreds of his neighbors. That was his idea of how to “plant roots and join the community.” Just as he did with Facemash, Zuckerber “reconsidered” his land-grabbing strategy after a firestorm of criticism that any normal six year-old could have seen coming.

Zuckerberg cannot be trusted even to play by the rules he wrote himself. In 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump used his Facebook account to call for a ban on all Muslims from entering the USA. Such comments are a clear violation of Facebook’s so-called “Community Standards.” Some of Trump’s comments were deemed "hate speech" and taken down by Facebook’s staff -- only to be reinstated through the personal intervention of Mark Zuckerberg, who claimed that any harm that might come from it was outweighed by its “newsworthiness.”

What Will it Take To Move Facebook From One-Man Rule?

Zuckerberg cannot be trusted to exercise unfettered control over the most powerful social platform ever created. He has got to go. The only questions are, “How to get him to go” and “Who will replace him?” And I suppose there is a third question: "Will his replacement be any different?"

I believe that only an existential threat to Facebook itself can overcome Zuckerberg’s desire to remain at its helm. It doesn't seem likely that any form of public protest, or mass exodus from Facebook would be effective, or likely. Too many people are apathetic, addicted, or both. That threat may have to come in the form of hefty fines, regulation, or something more drastic imposed by governmental bodies.

As for who might be trusted to wield Facebook’s power, the answer must be “No one.” That's why I used the words "autocracy" and "democracy" in the opening paragraph of this article. Not one single person should be hold absolute away over the most powerful social media tool on the planet, but a board of governors who are diverse in their opinions and strong in their principles. Pretty much the opposite of the current situation.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "What is The Root of All (Facebook) Evil?"

(See all 34 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

MmeMoxie
30 Jul 2018

I still have my FB account but rarely and I do mean rarely use it. I personally can't stand all of the crap that goes on in FB and I don't just mean Zuckerberg. I am talking about all of the mundane things many of my family and friends say and do.


I am old enough in my lifetime, 74 years, to know that it isn't FB that is my mortality but it is the generations of my family in the future that is my mortality, period end of quote!


Life changes constantly and that is always the way it has been, right from the beginning. Life is what's important, not whether or not someone finds out where I am been on the Internet or what I have searched for.


However, I do not like that Zuckerberg has made billions of dollars off of all of us who do have FB accounts. I don't care if FB is FREE or NOT. . .This man truly needs to be taken down and in my honest opinion. . .He NEEDS jail time!!!


Posted by:

Doc Eibenschotte
30 Jul 2018

Since the gub'mit likes to confiscate assets,can't they just hire an assassin?


Posted by:

Vulcan
30 Jul 2018

It's documented the owners of Facebook and Google were in the Obama white house for strategy session a total of 96 times between them!!

They were not there for OUR benefit.

Further, it is almost a certainty given those meetings that it was arranged to transfer their gathered data to "Fusion Centers".

If this is a new term to you, please search Fusion Centers. Very real, built and operational for years now.

Behind the scenes, FB and Google are NOT on many Americans side, and certainly not on conservatives side.


Posted by:

crazy Jerry
30 Jul 2018

After 2 bad experiences with FB, and their insistence that my several-characters-long login was
not safe but a password of 4 letters (2 caps and 2 lower case) plus a 2 digit number was excellent, I never went back. I am on NO social media. I don't miss it and I waste a whole lot less time. Social media is a major cause of some of our problems, and technology is going to be our eventual death.


Posted by:

Vulcan
30 Jul 2018

George Orwell was visionary.

Out society today is right out of Animal Farm and 1984.

This bodes poorly for our future.


Posted by:

Karl
30 Jul 2018

It is about time someone who knows what he is talking about spoke up on this issue. What if all the intelligent people who care about where this country is going simply deleted their FB accounts? That would leave all of the insipid, stupid people on it. Could Zuckerberg make money from just them? I'm out!


Posted by:

Walt K.
30 Jul 2018

Bob,
I agree with your assessment. I am not on FB,T, or other social media due to vague/confusing "privacy policies." Several months ago, "Bloomberg Business Week Magazine" ran an article describing how FB monetized operations in the early days, by selling personal user information to several known foreign nationals. The article implicated Zuckerberg directly, leaving the reader to question his ethics, as well as the FB's liabilities.


Posted by:

aa1234aa
30 Jul 2018

Bob, you might consider practicing what you preach.
Delete the politically motivated garbage from these pages. And please don't tell me some nonsense about the freedom of this or that, because the same rules should apply to all social media sites.


Posted by:

aa1234aa
30 Jul 2018

Clarification of my post above: I was not referring to your article, with which I agree. I was referring to some of the messages.


Posted by:

Margo
31 Jul 2018

Bob: Thank you so much for your very informative article. I knew Zuckerberg started FB while at Harvard, but I had no idea about the illegal shenanigans he used and his attitude and demeanor. That explains a lot. Your description "callow" is very precise: lacking adult sophistication; immature. The fake news apparently doesn't think this info is newsworthy.


Posted by:

GPK (Grand Pa Ken) SMET
31 Jul 2018

If only that same enthusiasm and energy for cleaning up something like Facebook and putting it under some kind of reasonable rational control could be directed toward global warming and the rest of the problems of planet earth as a whole - so many problems, so much to do, so little time to get there... How much does everyone know about Jonas Salk, "the developer of the first effective and safe vaccine to prevent polio," and his son Jonathan, "who co-authored a new book (released in June last month, posthumously for his dad) called "A New Reality" (Human Evolution For A Sustainable Future). Google that, check it out on C-SPAN-2 Book TV -- we've got a lot of things that need fixing more and bigger than Facebook, but I don't know, maybe it could start with Facebook and build up from there. Go Get 'Em Bob, I love it! I approve this message, I'm Grand Pa Ken (aka GPK SMET) (Ken for short)


Posted by:

Michael Shames
31 Jul 2018

Bob, I generally love your analyses. However, I think the weak link in your article is the assumption that Zuckerberg holds almost total sway over the $550 billion company with over 25,000 employees. Yes, he's the figurehead and must take responsibility for the company's actions. But I question whether Zuckerberg controls Facebook's upper management decisions, as you surmise. Big companies are generally like large oil tankers. It takes a lot of people to steer it and it turns take a lot longer than you'd imagine.


Posted by:

Oliver Fleming
31 Jul 2018

I tried to post a link to your article on facebook but it was stopped. Suckerberg is on to you.


Posted by:

louie
31 Jul 2018

facebook is a joke. it always has been a joke. they are the Home Depot of the internet. and just like Home Depot, the apalling, absolutely inexcusable nature of his product is deliberate policy. the user interface is beyond unaceptable, a chaotic ratsnest with no discernable functional organization. and after 15 years they still have no search engine. they have a token page that they call a search engine that's so worthless you can't even find your own mother. what would facebook be, what COULD it be, if only that dumbass took his job seriously?


Posted by:

Yogesh Khandke
31 Jul 2018

There are no free lunches in the world, yet most of our online activity doesn’t cost us anything directly. Email,social media programmes etc. are “free”. So this “cost” that Bob is I’m sorry to say whining about.


Posted by:

PeteFior
31 Jul 2018

"It doesn't seem likely that any form of public protest, or mass exodus from Facebook would be effective, or likely. Too many people are apathetic, addicted, or both. That threat may have to come in the form of hefty fines, regulation, or something more drastic imposed by governmental bodies."

I think government regulation should be a "last resort". Information, like Bob has presented in this article, should be widely disseminated to better educate the public about the privacy abuses of Facebook, Google, etc. Major institutions, non-profits, and businesses should stop encouraging clients to access their Facebook pages - and expeditiously get off Facebook!

Let the marketplace - fueled by an educated public - pressure Facebook to reform their ways or face going out of business entirely. Time to "wise up" to protect our Constitutional rights. I have never joined Facebook and never will - thank you!


Posted by:

Chris
31 Jul 2018

Your story doesn’t surprise me, knowing about how Zuckerberg started Facebook withheld me from getting an account right away. On the other hand, I’m allergic to social media, especially the hunger for information bothers me. It’s nobody’s business to know too much about me. It’s a bit of a surprise to me that several reactions on this article mention surprise at hearing about FB’s methods. I’ve known about this for more than ten years and it’s the reason why I resisted making an account when my workplace asked me to do that for easier communication. They were very put out when I explained my reasons but I’m glad I managed to have them contact me in the ‘traditional’ way to accommodate my wishes.

Removing Zuckerberg won’t make a difference though, he’s a figurehead but there’s a very large movement in the world that is gathering information from everywhere. Zuckerberg introduced a new level to the information gathering but they won’t dismantle everything when he disappears from the stage. Companies like Google are just as bad and it’s now trickling down to every level imaginable. Look at the Social Credit System that’s now being built in China. People there will be observed everywhere. A small number of transgressions like walking or driving through a red light can result in sanctions like losing your job or not getting one or even having to move out of your apartment. Talk about 1984! And I’m afraid those kind of things are in the future of Western countries as well.

It’s the nature of mankind to want to control how society functions. Religion has always been a major tool to do just that. In many parts of the world religion is declining in its influence, whether it’s because of communism like in China or because of emancipation and equality like in many Western countries. When religion no longer offers the tools to control you look for other tools.

Social media are those new tools. And just like religion they can be abused horribly.


Posted by:

Anita Mills
31 Jul 2018

When I realized how much personal information I might be sharing with identity thieves, I wanted off Facebook. Not easy to manage. I finally got directions from some kind person and severed the relationship.
Thank you, Bob, for educating those of us who need it.


Posted by:

Jim
31 Jul 2018

Anyone with a fecebook account is a fool.


Posted by:

John Norden
01 Aug 2018

Great article Bob.
You also opened my eyes to a lot of the Facebook/Zuckerberg history I was unaware of.


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