This week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally got the whack across the nose that many had hoped Congress would give him back in April.
The New York Post reports,
The social-media giant’s stock price took a spectacular nose dive Thursday after the company forecast a slowdown in the rate of new user sign-ups. Analysts reckon Facebook’s limp response to the European Union’s recently enacted digital privacy laws also soured investors on its near-term financial future.
While Zuckerberg spent the first half of 2018 listening to but not really hearing complaints about how Facebook mishandles user data, it’s a good bet he’s listening now. All told, Thursday’s trading vaporized $119 billion of the Menlo Park, Calif., company’s market value. That’s roughly the equivalent of the gross domestic product of Kuwait.
Public patience with Zuckerberg’s often unconvincing — and at times duplicitous — statements about the heroic lengths Facebook goes to protect user data appears to have come to an end. A rolling tide of revelations this year about persistent privacy breaches has eviscerated Facebook’s credibility on the issue. People have been logging off in droves.
Facebook has long claimed that its mission is to develop social infrastructure and — *gag* — build community. That no longer passes the giggle test. What they really want to do is follow people around the Internet, collect and organize what they learn and sell that information to the highest bidder.
To the three people who don’t realize it already: Facebook doesn’t think of you as the customer; they think of you as the product.
Congress raked Zuckerberg across the coals this spring. It made for satisfying viewing but ultimately came to nothing. No one in Washington appears up to the task of regulating America’s favorite time-waster.
Now the market has done what government failed to do — discipline Facebook for its bad behavior. It was the largest one-day stock drop ever and the most epic price correction in the history of Silicon Valley, an industry that knows a thing or two about making investors’ money disappear.
Zuckerberg himself took a $15.4 billion hit to his net worth. The general attitude seems to be that he had it coming. Somebody, somewhere, had to cut the hoodie-clad 34-year-old down to size.
Like all the digital economy’s most respected entrepreneurs, Zuckerberg never had much time for questions about his motivations or intentions. From the beginning he cultivated a rules-don’t-apply-to-us culture. Whether it was the sudden, unannounced changes to the site’s layout or the frequent sneaky tweaks to your privacy settings, Facebook seemed to have a policy of ignoring all criticism and ploughing ahead. Their motto said it all: Move fast and break things.
The Facebook crew was smarter than the crowd. They were more productive and could see further. They could imagine a future that most people weren’t creative enough to conjure or sharp enough to engineer. Speed was an invaluable asset and destruction the price of progress. Whether the public bought into their particular vision of the future was of no concern.
More at The New York Post