Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg addresses a wide range of issues in a new interview released today: selling data, taking Holocaust deniers at bay, fake news and one simple idea that is crazy Enough, it could just work.
Zuckerberg continued his apology trip with Recode, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The revelation that Facebook has lost control over millions of users' data and that it has fallen into the hands of a dodgy political advisory firm served as a watershed, reminding the world of the long list of missteps, mistakes and transgressions throughout its existence. In the months since it has admitted how badly this situation has been handled, Zuckerberg has been making a carousel with stops in Congress, in the European Parliament and in press associations to mitigate damage.
Recode asked Zuckerberg if he felt that someone should be fired because he did not respond to Cambridge Analytica's situation when Facebook first heard about it in 2015. After realizing that this is a big problem, Zuckerberg said, "I designed the platform, so someone gets fired for it. That should be me." The 34-year-old CEO has previously taken responsibility for the company's failures on the subject but the topic of the firing remains awkward in this interview.
Zuckerberg and Recode jokingly joke about the big news that would come from him firing on this podcast. Unfortunately, he confirms that will not happen today. Recode insists he'll probably be okay just hanging up and turning to a privacy question before Zuckerberg interrupts, just to turn back and ask, "Do you really want me to fire now?" After more needling, Recode says "no" and Zuck drops it and says, "I think we should do what's right for the community."
That seems like a great idea. With some chunky insider tips, the CEO came up with the idea that maybe he should go, that he would be fine, and most importantly, what is best for the community. At this point, it seems all too clear that firing itself would be a good step to do the best for the community of 2 billion Facebook users and the larger community of 7.6 billion people who are just trying their lives in to live in this world.  Who knows if Zuck has any engineering skills, but it's hard to say he was a bad businessman. Facebook's stock reached an all-time high this month, despite its battered image, as it dug its claws deep into the daily lives of users and intercepted the aftermath of growth. On my list of potential ways to fix Facebook, shutting down would be at the top, followed by a loss of algorithmic sorting of the news feed. Since none of these things will happen, Zuckerberg's resignation would be a worthy consolation prize.
During the interview, the CEO shows some of his worst qualities. For one, he seems incapable of learning from his mistakes. Early in the interview, he pounds on some of his pet peves, showing that he has not really absorbed or processed criticism. He still gets very frustrated when people understand Facebook's model of selling advertisers access to users based on their data and their implications about this data as "selling data". He has not yet grasped the boundary between the two. Characterizations are extremely thin and he ignores the fact that "selling data" is a good shorthand for what he actually does and the dark implications it carries.
Zuckerberg also criticizes the characterization of Facebook as a media company. He says he called it a utility, but today he prefers "social network" over "social media." He says that "building a network and building relationships is one of the most important things people do, and that is a lasting utility that people need." Zuckerberg, as always, talks about relationships and human contact like a man, who has never experienced it.
He thinks that social networks should be geared to creating something "useful and enduring", then he sets an example. He says that Facebook has "captured all people who interest a person" and then turned his knowledge into a useful product: Facebook Marketplace. After nearly 15 years gathering data on billions of people on this planet, it is most useful for Zuck to find a place for everyone to buy more shit.
It continues with the incredibly volatile theme of Facebook platforms to encourage mob violence and ethnic cleansing in places like Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India, Zuckerberg is doing his best to take no responsibility for the role of his platform could play. "It's clearly the responsibility of all the players involved," he says. "So, the government, the civil society, the different people involved, and I think we have an important role to play, given the platform we play, so we have to make sure we do what we need." 19659003] He ignores the fact that Facebook did not do what it had to do before expanding into markets around the world. He mentions that the company is getting more native speakers into problem areas and trying to better understand local cultures. "It's often hard to figure out from where we sit, to identify who the characters are, to promote hatred, and what will become … what the content is that will trigger violence," he says, without realizing that the right ones are from questions that should have been considered before they go halfway around the world and provide a platform that can turn entire societies upside down.
On the subject of fake news, he is still fooling around with moral relativity, which is not necessary. I sympathize with Zuckerberg's reluctance to become a censorship of the language, or the one who determines which messages are right. But his company decides what content users may or may not have on the platform. Asked specifically about Infowars – clear dissemination of false information with real consequences, he still will not admit that the conspiracy theory-loving platform could easily be booted from the platform due to their current harassment and bullying policy.
Infowars jest that the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting were not real and the whole situation was a complicated plot. This lawsuit has led to complaints by victims' parents who have been subjected to harassment and accusations for years as "crisis actors". The best consequence that Zuckerberg can achieve for infowars when someone uses their platform to confront a victim of Sandy Hook "to tell them, 'hey, no, you're a liar' – these are annoyances and we will really take it seriously. " This is an easy decision – Alex Jones uses his platform to harass people in real life. Mark Zuckerberg does not see himself in a position to make a judgment on it.
Speaking of the bad judgment, he decided to come to an example of relative facts by talking about the Holocaust. Here he goes:
I am a Jew, and there are a number of people who deny that the Holocaust has happened.
I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I do not think our platform should pull that down, because I think there are things where different people are wrong. I do not think they purposely get it wrong …
He has already made some of these comments, told Recode, "Personally, I find the denial of the Holocaust profoundly offensive, and I have absolutely no intention of defending the intent of people who do deny."
Despite the inability of his hired leaders to teach them how to look normal in public, they have done a pretty good job of teaching him the art of evasive response. Whether he speaks in front of the congress or talks to a journalist, he mostly stays on news and gives answers that carry the illusion of complexity, but only to say that he does not want to make sense of his problems. Facebook is still growing, people are still addicted to it, the checks are still collecting, so what's the real problem?
When asked what he would most like to apologize to the public, he is at a loss. "I do not know," he says bluntly. But then the old PR muscles come into play and he says, "I think the main thing that I've been trying to internalize this year is that we have a big responsibility and a lot we have to do better than we are . "
When Zuckerberg takes his goals of altruistic community building seriously, he should move away from the company used to rip apart communities around the world. He says Bill Gates is his hero, and he knows it will take years to develop a philanthropic strategy that is as sensible as the Gates Foundation's approach. He also says that he is not pursuing personal goals this year because repairing Facebook costs everything at the moment. Maybeâ € "and stay with meâ €" that thirtieth one, with about $ 80 billion, could try someone else in the driver's seat and plunge completely into these Gates-like charity schemes. If Zuckerberg's youth has an edge, he has plenty of time to keep his promise to give away all his money.