What Mark Zuckerberg says about Facebook issues. The main thing from the article The New Yorker
Photo: illustration by Javier Jaén; The photograph by David Yellen / Corbis / Getty
The New Yorker published an epic article about Mark Zuckerberg and social issues around Facebook. She is collected from a series of conversations with Mark, his current and former colleagues, allies and opponents.
The article is epic, not only in content, but also in size. The audio version lasts an hour and a half, and the text takes a couple of dozen pages. We read them and chose the most important thing in our opinion.
The article has two titles. The first for the version on the site of the publication is “Will Mark Zuckerberg fix Facebook before democracy breaks down?” It reflects the fact that the text on the surface - attempts to understand the fears of technology companies and their leaders, who now mold the moral image of modernity. And Mark, perhaps the most influential, scandalous and controversial figure of this process.
The second name - “Ghost in the machine”, “Spirit inside the mechanism” (no, not a ghost in armor) - will appear in the printed number in a few days. It reflects what the article says in a whisper and what escapes when you try to formulate it. Can Zuckerberg be called the soul within a soulless mechanism that has been entrusted to regulate the social, moral, and political structure of our time? And, it seemed to me, the author of the article seriously asked the question over which we all just laugh - is there a soul inside Zuckerberg itself?
Mark is the son of a dentist and psychiatrist
When he was born, his parents lived in New York. Mark has three sisters - one older and two younger. Mother gave up her medical career and devoted herself to the children. My father was a dentist and took in the office, which was adjacent to the house.
Mark’s first computers were the Atari 800 and IBM XT. At 12, he connected his father's house and office with a network to share files and chat.
Zuckerberg calls the world to openness, but he is closed to all
Mark says his goal is to make the world open and transparent. But he himself is not in a hurry to follow this motto. He almost does not allow people to come near him - only a narrow circle of those closest to him; lives in a large estate far from the road, among century-old oaks, behind hedges, plus behind a huge wall (Zuckerberg also has 7 hundred acres in Hawaii, a ski resort in Montana and a four-story house in San Francisco). Mark's attempts to protect his personal space sometimes attract even more attention to him. He condemned the developer, who planned to build a mansion "overlooking the bedroom of Zuckerberg," and then bought the house of neighbors for 44 million.
In response, Mark says he will always be the object of criticism.
“We are not selling dog food. Take any business where there are no disputes and contradictions, and still, I think, there will be people who will say that they are there. But all this is purely cultural moments. It’s at the intersection of technology and psychology, and it’s very personal. ”
Mark enslaved unsuccessful public experience
The Facebook campus is a separate world, a city in a city or, as it seemed, the author of an article is a thriving dictatorial state like Kuwait or Brunei. The central square, labeled Hack (which can be seen from the air). Shops, restaurants, offices along the main street. Employees use a bunch of household trifles - haircuts, dry cleaning, music lessons, any food. The campus was built at a Disney consultation.
They speak about Zuckerberg with enthusiasm and reverence, and the author of the article was asked to behave cautiously, without surprises (which, he says, did not have to use) during the interview. To the question why Mark does not like to open up in front of people, he replied:
“I'm not the smartest person. And if I say something wrong, you will see what the price will be. And I do not want to hurt or do things that affect my loved ones. Maybe in a parallel world where I did not get into those difficult situations that I got here, I would be more open and did not feel rejected every time I do something.
And maybe my image, or at least how I can comfortably behave in public, would look different. ”
Zuckerberg is considered too competitive
Mark loves desktop games, but it seems that not everyone has a positive impression of playing with him.
“In the first game, he can concentrate all the armies in one place, in the second, he will spread them across the terrain. He is not just playing a game with you, he is looking for a psychological way to win in all games, ”said Dave Morin, a former Facebook employee.
"He is a ruthless destruction machine." If Mark decided to take on you, get ready for the beating, ”says Dick Costolo, former CEO of Twitter. And according to Raid Hoffman, the founder of Linkedin, "many people in the valley perceive Mark as a really aggressive and competitive person."
Mark replies like this:
“Success is important to me. And yes, sometimes you have to defeat someone to get to the next goal. But I don’t think I’d always do that. ”
The middle circle is afraid to criticize Mark
Mark spent almost half of his life building Facebook, and he never worked anywhere else in his life. For so long he surrounded himself with deputies and lined up a comfortable environment that he found himself in informational isolation, from which it was sometimes difficult to get out.
In 2017, Zuckerberg traveled across the states of America to “listen to people.” The trip was documented by a professional photographer, and the former manager of the presidential campaign, Barack Obama, was in charge of everything. In the pictures, Zuckerberg, for example, fed the calf, ordered a barbecue, stood by the conveyor at the Ford plant, and everywhere looked like an alien studying humanity.
“Nobody ever wanted to tell Mark how stupid he looks,” says one of the former managers of Facebook.
But he used to make decisions under enormous pressure.
At the dawn of the company, people inside and outside more than once believed that Zuckerberg was ruining Facebook. It first happened in 2006 when Yahoo wanted to buy a company for a billion dollars, but Mark refused.
“In the next year and a half, almost all the managers quit. Some I had to fire myself, because everything became too dysfunctional. All shattered into pieces. But what I understood then is that if you hold on to your values and believe in what you are doing, then you will get out. It will take time, you will have to build a lot from scratch, but the lesson will be very useful. ”
The same unpopular decision was the introduction of the news feed. Previously, all the updates had to look at the pages of friends - now they have been collected into a single stream, and users rebelled.
“Constant doubts really test your emotional state for strength,” says Mark. But according to his opponents, the long years of constant attacks made him completely indifferent and immune to criticism. And in the end, he just stopped listening to her.
Zuckerberg is criticized even for charity
Mark and his wife, Chan Zuckerberg, donate huge sums for various purposes, but here they meet with criticism. For example, local politicians accused him of simply throwing money away and thinking that this would help. They also talk about opacity schemes. The legal organization of the Zuckerberg Foundation allows you to engage in lobbying, and to support politicians who benefit them.
Zuckerberg also announced an attempt to overcome all childhood diseases in the world.
“It's funny that I meet a few reactions from people in the Valley. Some react like “Oh, obviously, it will happen by itself - why don't you do other things?” Or “Oh, it's impossible - why do you look so far?” On average, every year life expectancy grows by at least three months . If technological and scientific progress does not slow down, the potential for growth will be even greater. ”
Bill Gates commented on Mark’s words like this: “There are desires, but there are plans, and they differ greatly in the degree of realism. Long-term goal Brand is extremely safe. By the right moment you will no longer be to write an article about his failure. "
For the sake of growth, Facebook was not considered with anything.
Facebook began to grow at a good time when a resource appeared that had not been thought of on such a scale before - the desire of people to give information about themselves for free.
Natural growth ceased in 2007 when Facebook reached 50 million users. Then Zuckerberg assembled a special Growth Team, whose task was to raise the numbers at any cost, even if it went against the convenience and interests of users.
The first thing the company went to overseas markets. Then the platform for developers opened. At that time, Facebook did not even control what data third-party applications were taking.
“When your job is to increase performance, good ways to do it will end one day. And you will be thinking whether there are any dark ways to make people come back? ”Said the former operational manager of the company.
At some point, Facebook engaged in real social engineering. For example, they increased the number of donors officially registered in the Americas by 20 times simply by adding the “I Donor” button to the site. Increased the turnout in the elections, adding the button "I voted." In 2012, they specifically showed people sad and happy posts for exploring how different moods spread across the network. They found that it’s almost impossible for a person not to go on Facebook if the letter “a friend posted a photo with you” arrived.
But growth has gotten too far
In 2016, Zuckerberg insisted on the immediate start of streaming Facebook Live video and increased the service team from 12 to more than 100 people. The moderation system did not have time to finish, and Facebook was filled with records of suicides, murders and violence.
After that, the management wrote in the internal mail:
“Perhaps the persecution will cost someone their lives. Perhaps people will die from terrorist attacks planned on Facebook. But we will still bring people together. This is a bitter truth, but we believe so deeply that any thing is by definition a good one if it allows even more people to unite and more often. ”
The leak of this message caused a scandal, and Mark called him "the provocative words of a talented man with whom he does not agree."
"We never believed that the end justifies any means."
Zuckerberg does not want to be judged by the film "Social Network"
Although Mark and the company refused to participate in the production of the 2010 film, they did not even express a strong protest against them - they even rented a cinema to watch the movie together.
Zuckerberg himself says: “First impressions are very important. Many people first learned about me from the movie. But I’m more worried about not what people think, but how the company’s employees will perceive it - the people with whom I work and who are important to me. ”
Sheryl Sandberg, the company's second public face, believes that “this is a very dishonest film - from private facts to a general fact. But he still forms the basis for how people represent Mark. ”
Mark does not agree that Facebook is to blame for the distribution of fake news.
Before the 2016 elections, Facebook turned investors into positive and promised huge advertising returns. The company's specialists offered their assistance to both headquarters, but only the Trump team agreed to use the capabilities of the platform to the fullest. According to Bloomberg, Trump has invested $ 280 million to show “white liberals-idealists, young women and African-Americans” posts defaming Hillary Clinton.
When the scandal began, Mark defended himself aggressively. He relied on statistics. The percentage of fake news was disproportionately small compared to the usual. Zuckerberg said that "this is crazy - to recognize their influence on the elections."
In an interview, he agreed that he was harsh, but he did not change his mind:
“People generally do not want to see fake news in any quantity. But it seems to me that it’s rather insulting to consider that people make their choice only because they were deceived. This intersects with the conviction that people are intelligent enough and can themselves realize their experience, draw their own conclusions about the direction in which society should go. ”
Americans were also worried about whether Russia had intervened in the elections with the help of Facebook. Facebook revealed the data - companies from Russia bought 80,000 posts, which were seen by 126 million Americans. Zuckerberg believes that this could not have a serious impact. It just seems to people that the scale of the problem is ten times larger than it actually is.
He believes it will be a big mistake for the state to intervene in the affairs of IT companies.
Bill Gates advised Mark to be more careful with Washington and to open an office there as soon as possible (which Mark did). According to Gates, he does not want to repeat the experience of the proceedings with the state.
But the first meeting with the Senate ended rather in favor of Mark. According to the comments of many, the senators were too divorced from reality. One of them, for example, could not understand where Facebook came from, if the service is free. Mark answered with a smirk, "Senator, we are spinning an advertisement." Facebook employees then printed their t-shirts with this phrase.
“Trying to break us will be a mistake.” People often say that Facebook has nothing to replace, but there is a lot of competition in the industry. As a medium, we are competing with Twitter, with Snapchat, as an instant messenger with iMessage, which is installed by default on every iPhone.
There is a deeper question. If we discard the laws, how do we relate to the fact that technology companies are becoming so large. "
Mark believes that attempts to curb the growth of giants from Silicon Valley will make room for companies from China.
“I don’t think they will conquer the US market anytime soon.” But in other places the daily competition is very high - in Southeast Asia, Europe, Latin America. If the state begins to restrain us, it will be more difficult for us in the first place in these territories. ”
The author of the article, of course, would not allow himself such silly remarks, but the approach “we’ll do better than our competitors sooner or later” is such a cyberpunk.
Zuckerberg does not want to restrict freedom of speech
The author of the article thought that Zuckerberg did not feel ready for many problems. As an engineer, he never aspired to the scope of content. These are not technical tasks for “thinking in the evening”, these are the subtlest aspects of human needs, the meaning of the word “truth”, the limits of freedom of speech and the sources of violence.
The interview touched upon a particular case - the story of Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist, according to whom the parents of Sandy Hook, who was killed in school, are actually fake actors working on an anti-weapon agenda.
At first, Facebook lowered Jones' posts in extradition, but public tension increased. The girl's parents wrote an open letter, told how they are being harassed and threatened by conspirators, and that they are now forced into hiding.
The company then deleted a few videos and blocked the Jones page for a month, then deleted several pages completely, banned Jones-related communities and podcasts, and changed its policy around “stirring up hatred.”
Zuckerberg comments it like this:
“I do not believe that it is right to ban a person for actually inaccurate information. We do not block people until their posts directly lead to the possibility of violence. ”
Mark understands that in the hands of Facebook there are too many opportunities to completely drown out one opinion and very loudly replicate another. Therefore, he wants to develop an automatic scalable system, a decision tree that can take into account all the randomness and nuances. But while the boundaries of what is permitted in speech are difficult to curb with technical corrections.
“It's easy to create an AI that will cover the nipple in the photo. But learning to recognize the excitement of hatred is much more difficult. ”
Does Zuckerberg experience emotions?
The author of the article asked if it was insulting to Mark that people consider him unemotional.
“Is it a shame?”, He paused, thinking for a few seconds.
“I don’t think it is offensive. I do not think this is true. That is, I'm definitely worried about a lot. These are different things - to make impulsive emotional decisions and worry about something.
I think the main reason for our success is that we solved the problem after the problem, and even after the problem, and this is usually done not on emotions. ”