Go Back

Zucked

June 9, 2022

Roger McNamee has been a Silicon Valley investor for 35 years. He co-founded successful funds in venture, crossover and private equity. His most recent fund, Elevation, included U2's Bono as a co-founder and has been an early Facebook investor who advised Mark Zuckerberg personally.

Back in the twentieth century, there weren’t many successful Silicon Valley start-ups run by people fresh out of college. That however changed as open-sourced components and external server infrastructure suddenly enabled young tech people could start a startup without many of the traditional upfront costs.

Zuckerberg and the people working at Facebook jumped directly from one university campus to another campus with near-zero experience in enterprise. This set the stage for irresponsibility that would haunt the company, and all of society for that matter, in its later years. Facebook's success skyrocketed correspondingly with its exponentially increasing user base, as did revenue and eventually profits. As it did, effectively nobody on the work floor could object to Zuckerberg's rule. Additionally, with a dual-voting right scheme, shareholder voting rights were also effectively excluded, giving the founder unprecedented control.

Blatant disregard for the user and their privacy

Facebook holds up to 29,000 data points on each of its users. That’s 29,000 little things it knows about your life, from the fact that you like cat videos to whom you’ve been socializing with recently. Take Connect, a service started in 2008, that allows users to sign into third-party websites through Facebook. Many users love the simplicity of not needing to remember countless complicated passwords for other sites. What most users don’t realize is that the service doesn’t just log them in. It also enables Facebook to surveil them on any site or application that uses the log-in. Use Connect to log into news websites? Facebook knows exactly what you are reading.

Now, if a business is so greedy for your personal data, you’d at least hope that it would treat that data with care, right? Unfortunately, ever since the earliest days of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s business has shown an apparent disregard for data privacy. In fact, according to Business Insider, after Zuckerberg gathered his first few thousand users, he messaged a friend to tell them that if they ever wanted information on anyone at their university, they should just ask. He now had thousands of emails, photos and addresses. People had simply submitted them, the young entrepreneur said. They were, in his reported words, “dumb fucks.”

Read more about how filter bubbles worsen polarization. How Facebook enabled a hostile foreign nation to expose 127 million American civilians to propaganda meant to influence the 2016 presidential election. Why Facebook doesn't fact check political ads and much more.