Mark Zuckerberg is a traitor, not just to this country, but to democracy everywhere.
As the CEO of Facebook, a business that has the attention of billions of people, Mark Zuckerberg has incredible power.
And that’s what makes the Facebook chief executive “the most dangerous person in the world,” New York University Stern School of Business professor Scott Galloway said on “Bloomberg Markets: The Close” on Wednesday, Aug 9, 2019.
Galloway, who teaches marketing and is a self-made millionaire entrepreneur, made the comment while discussing Facebook’s move to integrate the messenger services of the various platforms it owns: WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. (Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.) While customers will still be able to use all three messenger apps individually, the three services will all be running off of the same back-end technical infrastructure when Zuckerberg’s plan is completed, either by the end of this year or in early 2020.
“Mark Zuckerberg is trying to encrypt the backbone between WhatsApp, Instagram and the core platform, Facebook, such that he has one communications network across 2.7 billion people,” Galloway said in the Bloomberg interview. “What could go wrong?”
Indeed, more than 2.7 billion people use at least one of those Facebook-owned services each month, the company says. And more than 2.1 billion use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger every day on average, according to Facebook.
“The notion that we are going to have one individual deciding the algorithms for an encrypted backbone of 2.7 billion people is frightening — regardless of that person’s intentions,” Galloway tells Bloomberg.
That’s because a variety of public voices and perspectives should, at least in theory, help keep the democratic process healthy, Galloway tells CNBC Make It.
A “key safeguard for society is diversity of media/viewpoints, checks and balance,” Galloway says. He adds that people should be concerned by “the notion that one set of algorithms, controlled by one person who cannot be removed from office” would have a significant influence over the platform through which billions of Facebook users around the world consume information every day. Another relevant matter of concern regarding Zuckerberg and Facebook, Galloway adds, is that the social networking giant has already faced high-profile criticism regarding “bad actors” (such as Russian propagandists) using the platform to spread misinformation and sow discord through Facebook and Instagram.
″[Zuckerberg] has not demonstrated ability, or will, to ensure the doomsday machine will not be weaponized (repeatedly) by bad actors,” Galloway says.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s move to integrate its messaging infrastructure could actually be an effort to build a defense against a possible pending antitrust case, Galloway argues.
At the end of July, the U.S. Department of Justice said it was opening an antitrust review of some of the nation’s largest tech companies, and while no companies were named specifically, the DOJ is launching the review based on “new Washington threats” from Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Zuckerberg wants to get to the point where, if the government were to attempt to break up Facebook, the company would try claim it is not possible without killing the entire social network and taking out the economic benefits with it, Galloway says. “What Facebook is doing is taking prophylactic moves against any sort of antitrust so that [Zuckerberg] could say, ‘It would be impossible to unwind this now,’” Galloway tells Bloomberg.
This argument, though, is not likely to work, antitrust lawyer Steven Levitsky tells CNBC Make It. “No one likes to ‘unscramble the eggs’ of a corporate integration. But when companies have operated separately, and only now become integrated, it’s obvious that they can be separated again,” Levitsky says. “The cost of the separation is one that the defendant would have to bear.”
Facebook may also try to claim that if it were broken into smaller pieces it won’t be able to compete with Chinese tech behemoths, such as the Chinese messaging and mobile payment app WeChat and social media video app Tik Tok, Galloway tells CNBC Make It in a follow-up phone call.
This, Galloway says, is called the “national champions’ argument” in economics: “If you, in any way, diminish our size and power, we won’t be able to defend our shores against the Chinese companies that are coming for us,” Galloway says. He doesn’t by that argument. “Smaller, more nimble, agile companies have shown an ability to be just as effective countervailing forces than large lumbering ones,” he says.
“This is absolutely bad for the planet, bad for society and it is clear where they are going,” Galloway says. He also called the federal regulators’ approval of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram a “failure.”
“I think we all probably regret that now,” Galloway said. To this, the Federal Trade Commission had no comment, a spokesperson told CNBC Make It.
Facebook did not respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Pact with the Devil
This is a column about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, but it starts with an old story about Intel and Monsanto from the book Accidental Empires. Stick with me here and you’ll soon understand why…
There was a time in the early 1980s when Intel suffered terrible quality problems. It was building microprocessors and other parts by the millions and by the millions these parts tested bad. The problem was caused by dust, the major enemy of computer chip makers.
Semiconductor companies fight dust by building their components in expensive clean rooms. Intel had plenty of clean rooms, but it still had a big dust problem, so the engineers cleverly decided that the wafers were probably dusty before they ever arrived at Intel. The wafers were made in the East by Monsanto. Suddenly it was Monsanto’s dust problem.
Monsanto engineers spent months and millions trying to eliminate every last speck of dust from their silicon wafer production facility in South Carolina. They made what they thought was terrific progress, too, though it didn’t show in Intel’s production yields, which were still terrible. The funny thing was that Monsanto’s other customers weren’t complaining. IBM, for example, wasn’t complaining, and IBM was a very picky customer, always asking for wafers that were extra big or extra small or triangular instead of round. IBM was having no dust problems.
If Monsanto was clean and Intel was clean, the only remaining possibility was that the wafers somehow got dusty on their trip between the two companies, so the Monsanto engineers hired a private investigator to tail the next shipment of wafers to Intel. Their private eye uncovered an Intel shipping clerk who was opening incoming boxes of super-clean silicon wafers and then counting out the wafers by hand into piles on his super-unclean desktop, just to make sure that Bob Noyce was getting every silicon wafer he was paying for.
There is a business axiom that management gurus spout and big-shot industrialists repeat to themselves as a mantra if they want to sleep well at night. The axiom says that when a business grows past $1 billion in annual sales it becomes too large for any one individual to have a significant impact. Alas, this is not true when it’s a $1 billion high-tech business, where too often the critical path goes right through the head of one particular programmer or engineer or even through the head of a well-meaning clerk down in the shipping department. Remember that Intel was already a $1+ billion company when it was brought to its knees by desk dust.
The reason that there are so many points at which a chip, a computer, or a program is dependent on just one person is that these tech companies lack depth. Like any other new industry, this is one staffed mainly by pioneers, who are, by definition, a small minority. People in critical positions in these organizations don’t usually have backup, so when they make a mistake, the whole company makes a mistake.
Which brings us back to Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook has been getting a lot of bad press lately because its platform has been a particularly effective medium for pushing extreme political positions backed by provable lies. The problem, say Facebook critics, is the company’s resistance to controlling such posters if they are, say, the President of the United States of America. While Facebook might shut down you or me if we tried to do the same thing, they haven’t shut down or edited President Trump, which the company says is all in the interest of free speech.
Facebook is under a siege of sorts as advertisers boycott the company’s platform over this issue. Facebook lives or dies by advertising so this is a real threat to the company if it grows and endures. It would be easy to solve the problem if Facebook just took a more rational policy, treating all posters the same, Presidents and paupers alike.
Why doesn’t Facebook just make this problem go away?
One theory is that the company fears President Trump, who is always happy to threaten any outfit he perceives as throttling his political message. If Facebook can just keep shuffling its feet until the election, the thinking goes, then Trump will lose and his threats will lose with him.
But I have a different theory. My theory is that Facebook’s policy on political free speech is entirely — and deliberately — attributable to Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s position is Zuck’s position and it will only change when Zuckerberg feels he has made his point, whatever that is.
To understand why this is the case, just look at Facebook’s stock structure. Yes, stock structure.
Facebook has two types of shares identified as A and B. A shares are the common shares the company sold when it went public in 2012. Each A share carries one vote at the company’s annual meeting. Facebook B shares are original founder shares, which aren’t traded on any exchange, but each B share gets 10 votes at the annual meeting.
Through his B shares, Mark Zuckerberg holds 57.9 percent of all possible Facebook shareholder votes. He, as an individual, has voting control of the entire enterprise. He can’t be fired. He can’t even be effectively opposed. Facebook will never face the wrath of an activist investor.
Looking back to that story about Intel and Monsanto, Mark Zuckerberg engineered a lifetime position as Facebook’s key man with every critical path going directly through him. Like de Gaulle said of France, Facebook literally is Zuckerberg.
Jump now to 2020 and we can see that Facebook’s free speech position is Zuckerberg’s position because of this Faustian deal. So why doesn’t he change it and be less of a dick? Because power doesn’t exist if it is not wielded.
Even if Facebook changes policies, it will do so very slowly, because Zuckerberg doesn’t want to look vulnerable.
I don’t know what’s happening inside Facebook, but I’d guess that this is an instance when Zuckerberg wants to remind everyone who is the boss.
That’s how Tony Soprano might have handled it.
Could Mark Zuckerberg be Executed by a Firing Squad?
Legal experts weigh in on the Facebook founder’s legal jeopardy
Many people have suggested lately that Zuckerberg could face jail time for his misleading testimony to Congress over the last few years.
Jail time? Is that really enough?
If it is true that Cambridge Analytica and the Russians had enough data to determine how each and every Facebook use in America was going to vote, and they provided that information to the Trump campaign, then some jurists have suggested that the offense of undermining democracy in America is traitorous and punishable by death.
“But it is highly unlikely a firing squad would be used,” explains one of the Winkelvoss twins, sorry don’t know which, can’t tell them apart. “The firing squad hasn’t been used since 2010 in Utah when Ronnie Lee was executed. But that was by the State of Utah. The federal government hasn’t used the firing squad since the famous deserter Eddie Slovik was executed in 1945 in France by a firing squad for running away from battle.”
Then the other Winkelvoss twin chimes in (man are they tall and handsome and strapping!).
“The traitor of all traitors, Benedict Arnold, was not even executed by firing squad,” says this Winkelvoss. “He in fact escaped and lived out his life in England, but his partner in sedition and treason, Major John Andre, was hanged for his crimes. What Zuckerberg has done is fairly on a par with Andre and Arnold. America’s enemy was the beneficiary in both cases. In Zuck’s case it was Russia.”
But it is highly unlikely that Mark Zuckerberg will be hanged. According to hanging expert Evan Spiegal, “The last time someone was hanged was Rainey Bethea in 1937, for the rape of a 70-year-old woman in Kentucky. This was more or less a lynching. Although the mob is angry at Zuckerberg, I can’t really see them stringing him up.”
But what about the guillotine?
“The guillotine was only used in North America only in the French Carribean, and was discontinued in the 1890s,” says a guy with French accent, who looks suspiciously like Chris Hughes with a fake mustache. “The only people to die of guillotine in the US have been suicides, in which case the guillotines were home-made by the suicides themselves.”
So it’s not likely that Zuckerberg will face the guillotine. What about just the plain axe? Off with his head like they did in England?
“The famous pirate Blackbeard was rumored to have been beheaded in North Carolina for his crimes in 1718 but he was also shot,” says Palmer Lucky, through a virtual reality machine.
“Most of the people beheaded in the British colonies were Native Americans,” continues Mr. Lucky. “Miles Standish, the famous pilgrim, executed the chief Wituwamat by beheading him in 1623 for resisting white settlement. That’s why we dress up as pilgrims and celebrate Thanksgiving every year by cutting the head off a turkey.”
I’m not sure about this Lucky guy — he’s rumored to be a Trump supporter after all. But it does seem unlikely that any of these barbaric methods of execution will be used against the Zuck.
“If he were executed,” says an expert in jurisprudence (always loved that word) Mr. Eduardo Saverin. “It would most likely be by lethal injection.”
Well, there you have it. Mark Zuckerberg may be fined, sternly chastened, or even criminally prosecuted for his corporate misbehavior, but it is highly unlikely that he will be blindfolded, given his last cigarette, and then shot twenty or thirty times.
But at least a few people we interviewed seem like they are kind of hoping for it.