By Duke Staff
If you have ever visited the stairwell in between the fifth and sixth floor of Rockwell, you may have passed a large motivational poster featuring Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The quote next to his baby face reads “Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services. And we think this is a good way to build something.”
Other than the fact that this quote is ridiculously vague and just sounds generally unintelligent, based on the scandals that Facebook is currently entrenched in, it doesn’t seem to hold true.
If you haven’t kept up with how much trouble Facebook is in, here’s a quick primer: It was discovered that Facebook played a role in Russia influencing of the 2016 election, as the platform was used by Russian bots to circulate “fake news” and enflame existing political divides in an attempt to sway the results. More recently, it was revealed that UK-based conservative research firm Cambridge Analytica harvested data from 50 million Facebook users without their permission that was then used in attempt to influence the 2016 election.
Now that you’re all caught up – WHAT THE ZUCK, RIGHT?
These events have drawn a lot of criticism and raised questions of Facebook’s capability to protect our private data and their culpability in efforts to influence our elections. The company’s carefully crafted media responses do not answer enough questions, only offering vague reassurances similar to the aforementioned motivational poster.
Zuckerberg’s appearances in Senate and House committee hearings this week did not provide any clarity to the situation, other than to highlight his ability to rattle off PR-strategized statements and how sad it is to watch aged white men explain Facebook to the creator of Facebook.
Despite the amusement in watching Zuckerberg squirm and Senators’ attempts to navigate the basic operations of social media, there were a few moments in the hearings that we all ought to pay attention to.
When asked if Facebook was a monopoly, Zuckerberg could not provide a direct answer other than “It doesn’t feel like that to me,” after failing to name any legitimate competitors that the company faces. I guess the disappearing relevance of similar sites like Myspace and Facebook’s buyout of Instagram has nothing to do with the Zuckerberg’s overreaching influence on the world of social media.
He also refused to brand Facebook as a media or publishing company, even after he said Facebook was responsible for content published on its site. Though the company has been around for over a decade, Zuckerberg still fails to acknowledge what the company actually is. Maybe it began as a technology company, but it has clearly evolved into a media company, and needs to be acknowledged as such. Perhaps once Facebook begins to operate as what it actually is, they can stop stumbling into scandal every other month.
It’s also important to point out how many times Zuckerberg referenced Facebook’s conception in his Harvard dorm room, as if it just happened yesterday and he couldn’t possibly have a straight answer about how his company handles our private data.
Facebook is a 14-year-old company and is no longer the shabby start-up that Zuckerberg attempted to describe. Protecting user data should have been a number one priority somewhere in those 14 years, if not during its creation. Mechanisms should have been in place already to stop scandals like Cambridge Analytica or the Russian bots from happening.
And remember, Facebook is a publicly-traded company, with share prices going for $166.32 and a board of stockholders to report to. So, the Zuck can say “we don’t build services to make money,” but like with everything else he’d be lying.
But what else should we expect from a guy who needed to use a booster seat during his Senate hearing?