From little things big things grow. Nowhere is that more true than in the story of Mark Zuckerberg and his creation of Facebook, which started life in 2003 as a humble ‘hot or not’ website that allowed visitors to rate each other’s looks. Now it has 1.9 billion monthly active users and is on track to become a trillion dollar company.
The rise of Mark Zuckerberg, has been similarly meteoric. The Zuck was a student at Harvard when he built Facemash – the aforementioned ‘hot or not’ website – and screwed over some people who had commissioned him to create ‘HarvardConnection.com’ by stealing their idea for a college-based social network. Now he’s the 5th richest man in the world and appears to have his eye on a run for office. And not just any office – the office. The oval-shaped one. The one currently occupied by an alleged methamphetamine-abusing reality television host. The Zuck wants to be Commander-in-Chief. He wants it so bad it’s driving him mad, which is clearly the cause of this lapse in judgement:
To be a fly on the wall at that dinner. Let’s examine the numerous other reasons it looks like The Zuck wants to be The Prez.
1) A piece of Facebook legalese released in 2016 would allow for The Zuck to maintain majority control over the company should he take a voluntary leave of absence for the purpose of serving ‘in a government position or office’. That could probably be taken to mean serving in an advisory capacity, à la Elon Musk and the other Silicon Chips who tried warning Trump about the dangers of climate change, but here comes this next point:
2) He has repeatedly been described as somebody who ‘wants to be emperor’.
3) He said he’s found religion again, and that’s fair enough – I’d be overjoyed if I could find solace in anything other than Tim Tams – but the point is that you probably won’t be President if you don’t believe in some kind of god.
4) He’s been writing stuff like this:
‘Heading back home after a great few days in Texas. Today we drove down to Waco and stopped in smaller towns along the way. I had lunch with community leaders in Waxahachie who shared their pride in their home and their feelings on a divided country. I met young moms in West who moved back to their town because they want their kids to be raised with the same values they grew up with. And I met with ministers in Waco who are helping their congregations find deeper meaning in a changing world … We may come from different backgrounds, but we all want to find purpose and authenticity in something bigger than ourselves.’
Unless The Zuck has taken it upon himself to embark on some picaresque bridge-building mission with Middle America (hypothetical purpose unknown) he’s definitely looking to be President. And why not? We’ve seen that even the kind of people you scrape off your shoe can be President. At least The Zuck earned his billions and does not appear to be a serial sexual predator.
Now, nothing is confirmed. Zuckerberg has not actually said that he’s going to run for President. But one of the issues that many commentators feel Hillary Clinton fell down on was her ability to interact with blue collar America, something that Zuckerberg looks to be focusing on during his little road trips (whether blue collar America would have liked Hillary if she had interacted with them is up for debate). Based on The Zuck’s language and the people he’s been visiting, it can be stated – with more certainty than is provided by a Magic 8 Ball – that Zuckerberg wants some kind of official political power. That’s a bad thing. Why?
Because of this exchange:
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask.
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don’t know why.
Zuck: They “trust me”
Zuck: Dumb fucks.
Zuckerberg was a 19 year old and a college student at the time so we can cut him some slack. But there’s that old saying: when someone shows you who they are, believe them; The Zuck hasn’t done much in the last decade or so to suggest that this is no longer how he thinks. His company makes a lot of money by selling your data to third-parties for the purposes of creating targeted advertisements, and currently holds patents on programs that would take control of your webcam or allow its messaging app to infer emotional states from the speed at which you type.
Speaking of emotional states, Facebook is interested in manipulating yours! A study conducted in conjunction with the University of California found that by interfering with the newsfeed – specifically by making it display selected posts from friends – an individual could be made to feel happy or sad via ’emotional contagion’ (if your friends seem less happy then you’re less happy). Dystopian! And this is without mentioning that The Zuck’s deployment of ‘free basics’ in several African countries could allow state-run media outlets to control the narrative online as well as off.
Of course, violating privacy has been an intrinsic aspect of the Zuckerberg experience from day one. When he created Facemash – all the way back in the halcyon days of 2003 – The Zuck was hauled before the administration on charges of violating copyright and the individual privacy of other students. To build the website, he had to illegally access sections of the university’s computer systems – the college facebooks from which his social media enterprise would later take its name.
So there are questions to be asked. Can Zuckerberg be trusted not to abuse the huge amount of demographic data his website gives him access to? Can Zuckerberg be trusted not to engage in highly manipulative political advertisement using his website as a delivery platform? Can Zuckerberg be trusted? Should he run for President – and win – The Zuck would potentially have access to an incredible cyberweapon and propaganda tool. As The Guardian pointed out, Facebook could be used to foment revolution and swing elections; it goes without saying that an American president shouldn’t necessarily have those powers.
Facebook is a science-fiction writer’s worst nightmare and a despot’s wet dream. And while Zuckerberg’s little trip around America is lovely and downhome and optimistic about the future, we should be wary. It’s all tractor-rides and family dinners right now, but The Zuck does not have your best interests at heart. Remember: from little things big things grow.