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Q:

How much do you hate him...?

A:

I think hate is the wrong word. We reached a settlement (as the links above indicate) in 2009.

I do have serious concerns about Mark's recent claims that he wants to help promote democracy. I think his behavior indicates that he has no interest in democracy whatsoever. He runs Facebook effectively as a dictator (which I say based on his manipulation of the publicly traded stock share types, which permit him to retain control basically no matter what). Dictators tend to be incompatible with democracy.


Q:

What's your personal feelings on Zuckerberg running for President in 2020? Think it'll happen, think it's highly unlikely, I wanna know it all.

A:

I think Mark would be an extremely dangerous President. Aside from having referred to his users as "dumb fucks," he's also stated in writing, "You can be unethical and still be legal that's the way I live my life haha." That alone should be disqualifying for someone to be CEO of a publicly traded corporation, let alone President.

I worry that Mark's money might co-opt the Democratic Party and "convince" the old guard (Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, etc.) that there's really no better choice. But there are a lot of better choices out there. Sally Yates seems like she would be a fantastic candidate. Even Steven Colbert is more appealing if we have to pick someone famous. But I would much more prefer to see qualified candidates with real ideas as opposed to the usual smattering of wealthy celebrities. This obsession with celebrity is extremely dangerous, as recently pointed out by Frank Bruni. (See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/opinion/the-shameful-embrace-of-sean-spicer-at-the-emmys.html.)


Q:

Hopefully I'm not overstaying my curiosity - are you worried about Facebook being used as a propaganda tool for his campaign, seeing as so many people already get their news from there?

A:

Extremely worried. It's a huge problem.

It's already a problem that average Jane politician already feels like she has to depend upon Facebook to wage an effective campaign; that means that Facebook already distorts the political process. But if one of its executives then decides to run for office, there's an obvious bias for which I'm not sure there's any legislative or regulatory fix.


Q:

Agree. Need to provide better proof before we settle on this, OP.

A:

I added a picture to the Tweet. You can compare it to my picture in the New York Times.


Q:

OK then let us know how you want to proceed whenever you're ready.

A:

Uh, I still don't understand, but I added another photo with the date.


Q:

I think that Facebook, has a serious problem. It's not an instrument to discuss about serious topics that require a lot of posts, but unexpectedly it has turned on into that. Some of these discussions don't go anywhere and at the end, users start to scream virtually to each other. I think that the platform should support a sort of "discussion mode" and discourage users to start a complex conversation in "normal mode". Another part of this problem is that users don't perceive the others as real person but only as avatars, allowing them to insult people more easily. What do you think about it?

Anyway "The Facebook" is a fantastic invention, thank you very much for your work on it and make it possible.

Thanks for your attention!

A:

This is a great point. Mark likes to talk about "building community," but when you look at on-line communities (not just Facebook), there are some obvious problems. People feel protected by their relative anonymity and/or remoteness and often behave in ways that they wouldn't in person. When this happens enough, you end up with negative feedback loops of trolling that are anything but the kind of supportive community that people want.


Q:

Have you considered reaching out to The Intercept?

A:

I have a few times (not always on this issue). Crickets.


Q:

What do you think is next for social media - or have we seen the pinnacle of what we know as 'social media' (fb, twitter etc)?

also, i despise fb and everything it stands for and says it stands for

A:

There has got to be a happy medium somewhere between 140 characters (Twitter), which turns professional adults into middle schoolers, and unlimited garbage (Facebook), which turns middle schoolers into zombies and the former director of the KGB into Republicans' favorite political figure.

There's not one "thing" that's next, but I think these next few months will be instrumental in worrying technology executives to the point where some significant changes will need to be made in the future. Watch what's happening to Uber as its initial organizational configuration completely falls apart. That's what is in store for the rest of the industry as these abuses continue to be uncovered.

Additional thought: part of what constitutes "social media" has nothing to do with technology. It's largely a change in cultural norms that has led us to put out in public what used to be sent in a physical letter, or over e-mail. Maybe those old norms weren't so bad after all and not every thought needs to be public all the time!


Q:

Are you Facebook friends with him?

A:

I'm not. When Facebook launched on February 4, 2004, he didn't actually let me know that it was going on-line, even though he had used my Facebook for a while. It was part of a student portal I made at Harvard called houseSYSTEM, since students lived in the "residential house system". I found out about Mark's project when I got a friend request from my freshman roommate who had sent me a friend request, and then IMed Mark on AIM soon afterward asking about it.

When I signed up, my user ID was 82, though of course on my Facebook, it was 1. On my Facebook, Mark's user ID was 1234.


Q:

What weird detail(s) from the Fincher movie were you surprised to see them go to needless lengths to be accurate?

A:

None. There was really not so much in the movie that was accurate aside from the fact that there were some twins involved in a lawsuit.

I actually ended up suing the author of the book the movie was based on in part because Sony Pictures was so reckless with the facts. The Sony hack revealed that they decided to pay Eduardo Saverin's girlfriend $1 million before she even got around to suing them because her character was so obviously defamatory and inaccurate.


Q:

Apparently Zuckerberg felt the same way but noticed they'd meticulously reconstructed the actual hoodies he owned. I was wondering if there were other trivial aspects that were creepily done.

A:

As I recall they actually filmed at Johns Hopkins, and made some efforts to reconstruct his desktop in the "hacking" scene based on his blog, but I never got the feeling like I was really re-living my memory. Obviously the fact that I was totally missing had something to do with that. But just generally everything was off, as though it had been filmed in some parallel universe where different people had the same names as people I knew.


Q:

are there any aspects you thought were not just inaccurate, but less cinematic or narratively interesting than what actually happened?

A:

The movie completely missed one of the main points of my book, which was the whole privacy debate at Harvard in the fall of 2003. I was falsely accused of stealing student passwords and nearly got kicked out of school for not doing anything wrong; Mark actually stole student passwords for his own profit and ended up a billionaire and generally respected person. A much different movie!


Q:

Who were the brightest or most potential-filled of your classmates that you feel ended up in professions where their talents are not being used to their utmost?

A:

A lot of my classmates in Economics 1010a, a big economics course at Harvard, ended up at Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs in 2006, running things like the "Mortgage-Backed Securities Division." They blew up the world.

They probably could have put their talents to better use.