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Mark Zuckerberg and the revolt of the public

I joined Facebook in 2010. As if by magic, the lives of 'friends' are lost in time and space materialized on my laptop, so I could partake of their everyday moods, their exotic vacations, their children's sporting events. This triumph of intimacy over distance accounts for Facebook's astonishing early growth. In a recent post commemorating the 15th anniversary of the social network, founder Mark Zuckerberg recalled:

I built a simple website organized around people, where we could connect with the people we wanted and share what was important to us.

Facebook at 15 has a great deal more than that. It's the largest repository of images in the history of the human race, for example. It's a gigantic billboard towering over 2.7 billion users, for which advertisers in 201

8 paid roughly $ 55 billion. It's a labyrinth of algorithms that bind and loosen according to opaque criteria.

And, notoriously, Facebook is a battleground in a sociopolitical conflict.

Everywhere, the public is in. It's a global suicide watch, searching content to alert responders to a self-destructive tendencies revolt against the elites who manage the great institutions of modern society. Shirky's term – "self-assemble" on the streets. Examples can be multiplied at will. Egypt's Tahrir Square protests in 2011 were first called on Facebook. The same is true of the ongoing 'yellow vest' movement in France. Elite bashing populists search as Italy's Matteo Salvini and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro have ridden Facebook to electoral success. At Bolsonaro's inauguration, jubilant crowds chanted, "WhatsApp, WhatsApp! Facebook, Facebook! "

Facebook content today is routinely described as 'a threat to democracy' when not actually 'democracy-poisoning'.

The elites, ever suspicious of anything digital, have mounted a determined counterattack. The German government has expanded its privacy concerns until it's threatening Facebook's business model. The platform's "hate speech problem" has come to an end in the past with the Donald Trump's victory on Facebook.

The tipping point, however, came in 2016 with Donald Trump's victory on Facebook , planted by Russian agents, had decided the election. For Democrats, liberals, this interpretation has been postponed Trump himself among the devils tormenting American political life. Facebook content today is routinely described as "a threat to democracy" when not actually "democracy-poisoning". A site once known for intimate 'likes' and 'pokes' is now said to cause depression and make users 'physically sick'. Zeynep Tufekci, "is not a pony."

Calls for the US government to regulate Facebook as a public utility, or to bring anti-trust action and "break up" the social media giant.

Zuckerberg's response to these assaults has been, in a sense, predictable. At $ 60 billion in personal worth, Zuckerberg is nothing if not elite – and he has tried, rather desperately, to provide elite concerns. He has apologized for privacy breaches and Russian electoral manipulation. He has thrown billions of dollars, thousands of workers, and the latest artificial intelligence technology to preserve what he calls "safety and security" in content. He has been working on fake news out of Facebook, with some success.

None of it matters. The elites have hardened their hearts. They expect a Palo Alto version of Chinese Internet police. measured by by Media Tenor International, remains far worse than that of other unloved tech behemoths like Google or Amazon.

But the most interesting and least noticed aspect of this quarrel is the class to which Zuckerberg, in fact, belongs to: that of digital technology's movers and shakers, what I would call, loosely, the Silicon Valley elites. Members of this group differ from political and media elites in one important respect. They identify their business with disruption and are content to be known as 'chaos monkeys'. One of Zuckerberg's early mantras was "Move fast and break things."

Zuckerberg is aware of the conflict swirling around Facebook pits "large hierarchical institutions" against "networks of people who have the freedom to interact with whom they want". Some remarkable passages in his 15th anniversary manifesto make it clear that he intends to align himself with the public network, and is comfortable with any short-term political breakage that might ensue:

As networks of people replace traditional hierarchies and reshape many The institutions in our society … There is no such thing as a change in the way they are used to society and democracy.

[…] 19659003] The statement has already drawn fire from the usual quarters. Whether Zuckerberg stands on principle or lapses into apology is not, I believe, a trivial question. Either way, in the next stage of the revolt of the public

Martin Gurri

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