Home > Uncategorized > Mark Zuckerberg is a rich jerk

Mark Zuckerberg is a rich jerk

from Dean Baker

Last week, New York Times columnist Timothy Egan had a piece headlined “Why Doesn’t Mark Zuckerberg Get It?” The piece then goes on to document how Facebook has become a medium for spreading lies and nonsense all over the world, that many ill-informed users have come to believe.

This is what Egan wants Zuckerberg to “get.” While it would be nice if Zuckerberg understood the problems created by Facebook, and took effective measures to address them, the problem with Egan’s piece is that there is no reason to expect that Zuckerberg would get this point.

Zuckerberg is not a political philosopher concerned about the public good. There is a zero evidence he is a deep thinker of any sort. He is a Harvard boy who stumbled into a good idea and had the necessary connections to get very rich from it: end of story.

It is bizarre that so many people look to the country’s billionaires to tell us how the world should be constructed or think that these people have any great insight into such matters. Being a billionaire means that you were successful at getting very rich. There is no reason to believe that billionaires have any more insight into major policy issues than anyone else.

Imagine if we turned to LeBron James, a truly great basketball player, to get advice on how best to deal with global warming. LeBron is a smart guy, but no one would expect him to have special insights into dealing with global warming, in spite of his incredible skills on the basketball court.

In the same vein, why would anyone think that Zuckerberg would know or care about how Facebook should be run in a way that protects democracy? Zuckerberg runs Facebook to make to make money (lots of it), not to promote democracy. The way to fix the problems of Facebook is not to convince Zuckerberg of its harms, the way to fix Facebook is to change the law.

  1. Steve McGiffen
    November 1, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Great comment. Similarly, here in France I receive several phone calls day trying to sell me things, which is incredibly irritating. Still more irritating, however, is that the government could ban it, and show no signs of contemplating doing so. Dean Baker’s comment and mine refer to just two of hundreds of abuses, petty and not so petty, that governments could stop happening.

  2. lobdillj
    November 1, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Good point. How should the law be changed?

  3. Jan Milch
    November 1, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Real great comment,Dean!Spot on!

  4. Rob
    November 2, 2019 at 1:26 am

    I think Twitter made a wise move banning political advertising. Zuckerberg knows the world is fully of suckers who will continue to use his predatory platform regardless of what he does or how he allows the platform to be used to undermine democracy by totalitarian states (China) or totalitarian oligarchies and kleptocracies (Russia) thereby turning America into an elective despotism and same. SuckerBook (aka FaceBook) is the place for modern slave trade:

    A BBC News Arabic investigation found online slave markets on apps provided and made available by Google and Apple, including Facebook-owned Instagram. (BBC News)

    But people just keep on using the platform because it fits their modern mindless consumer driven behavior.

  5. Ikonoclast
    November 2, 2019 at 2:46 am

    Modern governments are in the pocket of big business. Our elected representatives are bought and suborned by capital. This method of governance will keep working… until it doesn’t. What will bring it to its knees will be the real world problems of unsustainability. Billionaires don’t care about the impacts of political economy on the environment or on the bulk of the people. Billionaires are insulated from the impacts for now, although they cannot remain insulated indefinitely.

    One reason bodies (like human bodies) can remain healthy is that they transmit pain from the extremities to the brain. The brain initiates action to avoid danger and damage and to seek safety and sustenance. The transmission of the feelings of pain and privation to the brain are crucial to this process. Equally, in the body politic, the body (the people) must transmit their pain to the brain, that is to say to state and corporate governance. Take this how you will, but the pain of the poor and dispossessed feel has to be transmitted to the elites. Until this is done, the elites will not change. They will continue to run the world to suit themselves.

    The pain could be transmitted wholly peaceably by the people in democracies, if they all voted,and had enacted by new representatives, policies which confiscated excess wealth and re-nationalized natural monopolies along with outlawing tax evasion, tax havens and so on. Violence would only occur if the elites became reactionary and started the violence. In that case, since they are outnumbered 999 to 1, I think it would go badly for the elites. Most military, police, security and technology personnel are workers, not capitalists, after all and most have families. They are more closely connected to the masses than to the elite. In an existential crisis, their allegiance will be to their families and other ordinary people.

    When the bulk of the middle class fall into the precariat due to ecological and economic collapse, as is beginning to happen now in an accelerating manner, then the situation will become highly volatile and intrinsically revolutionary. Change will be very rapid. We will either transition into socialism or collapse into barbarism. Those are the only realistic possibilities.

    • Craig
      November 3, 2019 at 1:28 am

      Not the only realistic alternative. Direct and reciprocal monetary distributism and the new monetary paradigm of gifting is a genuine thirdness that threads the needle between capitalism and socialism by rationally integrating the best aspects of both.

  6. Rhonda Kovac
    November 2, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    Setting aside for a moment Mark Zuckerberg’s decisions re political advertising on Fracebook– To refer to him as a “jerk” and as some kind of spoiled Harvard brat “[un]concerned about the public good” is–I’m sad to say–an example of ad hominem vindictiveness worthy of Donald Trump.

    How quickly we forget that Zuckerberg and his wife have pledged to give 99% of their Facebook shares to charity (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/02/technology/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-charity.html).

    Such a pledge of course doesn’t excuse harm resulting from wrong Facebook ad policies. Still, we should all know better than to emulate the beast in the White House.

  7. Ikonoclast
    November 2, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    Zuckerberg and his wife have pledged to give 99% of their Facebook shares to charity “in our lives”. Have they given any yet? It sounds like an empty pledge. I was going to learn Russian “in my life” because of my interest in Russian literature. I am 65 and I haven’t learned Russian yet. It’s obvious now that I never will.

    The true value of Facebook is highly negative. It produces no real product of any kind, only a service of dubious and double-sided value. The negatives outweigh the positives. It is part of the destructive advertising complex which induces further over-consumption in a world being ecologically destroyed by human over-consumption.

  8. Ken Zimmerman
    November 4, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Zuckerberg was likely a jerk before he became rich. More to do with his preppy status and his often expressed disdain for “ordinary” people. I think he operates Facebook, etc. for the same reason. The money is just a bonus. In his view few others are his intellectual equal, so putting the spurs to Congress, the President, etc. is more like sport for Zuckerberg than holding onto his wealth. Social media sites like Facebook and Renren in China can’t help but influence political, economic, scientific, etc. actions and relationships. With multiple millions of subscribers, many with strong views in one or more of these areas, these sites are town hall meetings writ very large. And we know how raucous town hall meetings can become. Professional propagandists are aware of this potential and certainly would find it tempting to use Facebook, etc. to spread their propaganda much further and much wider. Apart from close and detailed monitoring and censorship, I can’t see another way to make these sites more beneficial than harmful. Although in my view it’s unlikely all harm can be avoided.

  9. Yok
    November 8, 2019 at 3:03 am

    Rhonda. I know a good way for Zuckerberg to make a real difference in the world – let him donate generously to Bernie Sanders, and support him. What this world needs more than anything else, is economic justice. Unwind the process of using wealth and power to gain even more wealth and power.

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