Today saw Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg begin a week in Washington, D.C. that will see him under intense scrutiny. No matter how this ends, both his company and his individual brand are damaged to the point that is well beyond repair.
Facebook has been declared "over" many times previously, but this time the stakes are a whole lot higher than just something once very trendy being mainstreamed and then co-opted by bored housewives stalking their children.
The social network will never be the same, as a rubicon was crossed with the revelations that the data of up to 87 million Facebook users was improperly harvested by a British political consulting firm, one with a far right wing nut agenda, Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook is now under fire for their role in not stopping (and thus helping) to spread Russian propaganda, false news and conspiracy theories to divide the American electorate. Basically, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook did nothing to stop the Russians and the alt-right from hacking our brains.
Zuckerberg held several meetings with leaders of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees today. Tomorrow and Wednesday he is scheduled to testify before congressional committees; where he is set to be publicly grilled.
Today he showed up in a suit and tie, proving to the rest of the country that he actually owns such a thing. We didn't see his usual ensemble, an ugly grey t-shirt and jeans that looks like it was picked out by the world's laziest male tween. It may seem trivial to rip Zuckerberg for his wardrobe, especially when you consider all the serious issues relating to his week in D.C. but it's apt.
I almost always disagree with White House Economic Advisor Laurence Kudlow, a man who talks exactly like Roger Meyers Jr. on The Simpsons, but he’s spot on in ripping Zuckerberg's intentionally putrid wardrobe.
"I wish Mr. Zuckerberg — I hope he comes to Congress wearing a nice business suit and shirt and tie, so he will be taken more seriously," said Kudlow. "I’m tired of that t-shirt, hoody stuff. He does run one of the largest corporations of the world, for heaven’s sakes."
Kudlow is right to skewer Zuckberg's presentation because it's a uniform. The 33-year-old billionaire is running the “I’m just like you” con on all of us. I think Michael Moore does great work, I've loved every single movie that he's made and I agree with almost all of his worldviews, but he also does the “hey, I’m just like you” uniform too; sporting a Michigan State baseball hat and jeans.
You need to be on your guard against anybody who's rich, powerful and always presenting themselves as the everyday common man. Look at FCC Head Ajit Pai, he's as scum of the Earth as scum can be on this Earth, and he pulls the same bit with his novelty (trying to be funny) Reese's coffee mug.
It’s a sinister, but simplistic technique, one that's been around since the dawn of humanity. The most sinister way that Mark Zuckerberg has used his Facebook creation often goes overlooked however. It's a whole lot worse than just making sure you see the exact photos of people you know that will guarantee you get depressed.
Facebook made sure it wouldn't peak and then become irrelevant like MySpace, and it did this by making itself internet infrastructure.
You can login with Facebook almost anywhere. Zuckerberg made it a core foundation of just about every site on the internet. This was brilliant, cut throat, cutting edge, monopolistic and evil genius all at the same time. It's a little creepy and scary too.
What is without a doubt, beyond creepy, is how hard it is to delete your Facebook account. To make it permanent you have to go in and delete every single thing you have ever posted in the entire history of your account.
They're basically saying, you are free to leave the castle at any time, there's the exit right there...but there's a moat; with hungry man eating alligators in it.
Tech companies once claimed that they weren't about profits and greed; instead supposedly prioritizing knowledge, experience, openness and information. Google even once had a company slogan "don't be evil."
Today, tech companies are just as greedy and corrupt as the investment banks.
No matter what happens this week on the hill, Zuckerberg and Facebook are well past the point of no return when it comes to an image makeover. No amount of Sheryl Sandberg corporatespeak can fix this.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune corporation blogging community Chicago Now.
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