But the thing that I learned from that is, if you stick with your values and with what you believe you want to be doing in the world, you can get through. On several occasions, Zuckerberg stumbled when it came to issues of privacy. Users could opt out, but many had no idea that the feature existed until it revealed upcoming holiday gifts, or, in some cases, exposed extramarital affairs.
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Despite the apology, Zuckerberg was convinced that he was ahead of his users, not at odds with them. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. Some of the film was fictionalized. But other elements cut close to the truth, including the depiction of his juvenile bravado and the early feuds over ownership. Zuckerberg and Facebook had chosen not to be involved in the production, and the portrayal was unflattering.
Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, is cocksure and cold, and the real Zuckerberg found the depiction hurtful. Before the movie came out, Facebook executives debated how to respond. Zuckerberg settled on a stance of effortful good cheer, renting a movie theatre to screen it for the staff. I still think it forms the basis of a lot of what people believe about Mark.
While the movie contributed to the fortress mentality on campus, Zuckerberg made a series of decisions that solidified his confidence in his instincts. In , he paid a billion dollars for Instagram , the photo-sharing service, which at the time had only thirteen employees. Outside the industry, the startup appeared wildly overpriced, but it proved to be one of the best investments in the history of the Internet.
Today, Instagram is valued at more than a hundred times what Zuckerberg paid for it, and, even more important, it is popular with young people, a cohort that shows declining interest in Facebook. That spring, Facebook went public on the Nasdaq, at a valuation of a hundred and four billion dollars. There were technical glitches on the day of the listing, and many people doubted that the company could earn enough money to justify the valuation.
The share price promptly sank. The Wall Street Journal called the I.
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But what I felt was, we were at a sufficient skill and complexity that it was going to take a couple years to work through the problem, but I had strong conviction that we were doing the right thing. Zuckerberg was happy to make sharp turns to achieve his aims. In , when users started moving from desktop computers to phones, Facebook swerved toward mobile technology.
Zuckerberg told employees that he would kick them out of his office if their ideas did not account for the transition. In early , Zuckerberg directed employees to accelerate the release of Facebook Live, a video-streaming service, and expanded its team of engineers from twelve to more than a hundred. As a result, Facebook Live videos of people committing suicide, or engaged in criminal activity, started circulating before reviewers had time to race through, find the issues, and take the videos down.
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A few months after the service launched, a Chicago man named Antonio Perkins was fatally shot on Facebook Live and the video was viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And still we connect people. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly.
Zuckerberg was also experimenting with philanthropy. For all the criticism, the project has produced some measurable improvements. A Harvard study found greater gains in English than the state average, and a study by MarGrady Research, an education-policy group, found that high-school graduation rates and over-all student enrollment in Newark have risen since the donation. Zuckerberg emphasizes those results, even as he acknowledges flaws in his approach. In contrast to a traditional foundation, an L. In other words, rather than trying to win over politicians and citizens in places like Newark, Zuckerberg and Chan could help elect politicians who agree with them, and rally the public directly by running ads and supporting advocacy groups.
A spokesperson for C. The structure has gained popularity in Silicon Valley but has been criticized for allowing wealthy individuals to orchestrate large-scale social agendas behind closed doors. Characteristically, Zuckerberg favors the optimistic scenario. I asked Bill Gates, whose private foundation is the largest in the U. As Facebook expanded, so did its blind spots.
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Local officials resorted to shutting down the Internet sixty-five times last year. In Libya, people took to Facebook to trade weapons, and armed groups relayed the locations of targets for artillery strikes.
Nowhere has the damage been starker than in Myanmar , where the Rohingya Muslim minority has been subject to brutal killings, gang rapes, and torture. Three years later, that figure had reached twenty-five per cent.
Phones often came preloaded with the Facebook app, and Buddhist extremists seeking to inflame ethnic tensions with the Rohingya mastered the art of misinformation. Beginning in , a series of experts on Myanmar met with Facebook officials to warn them that it was fuelling attacks on the Rohingya. David Madden, an entrepreneur based in Myanmar, delivered a presentation to officials at the Menlo Park headquarters, pointing out that the company was playing a role akin to that of the radio broadcasts that spread hatred during the Rwandan genocide.
By last March, the situation had become dire: almost a million Rohingya had fled the country, and more than a hundred thousand were confined to internal camps. The United Nations investigator in charge of examining the crisis, which the U. The situation is getting worse and worse here. I saw Zuckerberg the following morning, and asked him what was taking so long.
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But, yeah, I think the situation in Myanmar is terrible. I asked him to specify the problem. It takes time to hire the people and train them, and to build the systems that can flag stuff for them. Over the years, Zuckerberg had come to see his ability to reject complaints as a virtue.
But, by , that stance had primed the company for a crisis. The election was supposed to be good for Facebook. During the campaign, Trump used Facebook to raise two hundred and eighty million dollars. Just days before the election, his team paid for a voter-suppression effort on the platform. After the election, Facebook executives fretted that the company would be blamed for the spread of fake news.
At a tech conference a few days later, Zuckerberg was defensive. It is an issue on an ongoing basis, and we need to take that seriously. Shortly after the election, Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, contacted Facebook to discuss Russian interference. But, by the spring, he sensed that the company was realizing that it had a serious problem. Facebook moved fitfully to acknowledge the role it had played in the election.
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In September of , after Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant, Facebook agreed to give his office an inventory of ads linked to Russia and the details of who had paid for them. In October, Facebook disclosed that Russian operatives had published about eighty thousand posts, reaching a hundred and twenty-six million Americans. For five days, Zuckerberg said nothing. His personal Facebook profile offered no statements or analysis. Its most recent post was a photo of him and Chan baking hamantaschen for Purim. In conversation, Zuckerberg is, unsurprisingly, highly analytical.