Friday, February 17, 2017

Zuckerberg’s ‘Manifesto’ Is Just An Ad For Facebook, Not A Rebuke Of Trump

Facebook chief executive’s bloated essay is just an advertisement for his social network.


By Therese Poletti
MarketWatch
February 17, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg posted a 6,000-word “State of the Union”-style mission statement for Facebook Inc. on Thursday, which many in the media immediately took to calling a “manifesto” that refutes the isolationist ideas of President Donald Trump.

Nope.

The lengthy diatribe, which is nothing like the pithy, controversial manifestos of political and artistic movements of the past, is just Zuckerberg’s attempt to create a warm and fuzzy feeling for Facebook FB, +0.30% The world’s largest social network has taken a public beating for being a platform for fake news during the recent U.S. presidential election, and been excoriated by some on the left for keeping Trump advisor and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel on its board.

On Thursday, though, the media that has at times been critical of Facebook for those issues gushed with laudatory praise of Zuckerberg. Buzzfeed, which interviewed him at the company’s Menlo Park, Calif., campus, wrote a lead that could be a description in a romance novel, mentioning his “grammarian’s enunciation,” “posture of a palace soldier” and the way his “hazel eyes engorge.”

“Simply put, Facebook is embracing humanistic values and incorporating them in its broader technological mission to connect the world,” BuzzFeed wrote.

The New York Times wrote that “the letter comes close to a political statement ... essentially arguing against a tide of isolationism that is rising across the world.”

That isolationism is personified by Trump, the ideology that won him the presidency and his actions since taking office. Yet Zuckerberg said nothing about the most important touchpoint in Silicon Valley and much of the world right now: Trump’s attempt to ban entry to the U.S. of visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

In fact, Zuckerberg totally avoided the two parts of globalization that Trump and his isolationist ilk in Europe and beyond largely fight against: trade and migration. Zuckerberg instead hinted that, somehow, his mission of connecting everyone around the world via their smartphones or computers is endangered by Trump’s isolationist agenda.

“Facebook stands for bringing us closer together and building a global community. When we began, this idea was not controversial. Every year, the world got more connected and this was seen as a positive trend,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Yet now, across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection. There are questions about whether we can make a global community that works for everyone, and whether the path ahead is to connect more or reverse course.”

The global connection Facebook provides is not in the crosshairs, however. Trump would obviously rather have people in Sudan or Yemen staring at Facebook in their home countries instead of coming to the U.S., based on his travel ban. And he is obviously fine with global social networks despite his trade protectionism, judging by his rampant use of Twitter Inc. TWTR, -2.33%

Zuckerberg does not really offer any solutions to the issues he sees, other than to call for more political and community engagement, of course on Facebook. He noted that with Facebook’s help, there were more voters in the last election.

“We helped more than two million people register to vote and then go vote. This was among the largest voter turnout efforts in history, and larger than those of both major parties combined,” he said.

This type of cheerleading for Facebook is exactly what Zuckerberg’s post was meant to engender, and media jumped in to do so Thursday, with more than a few posting headlines about his efforts to “save the world.” In fact, Zuckerberg is just trying to save Facebook and the billions in profit it makes from advertising and users’ data with a free commercial splashed across the biggest media sites in the world.


Article Link To MarketWatch: