The Facebook CEO published a note to commemorate Facebook’s 15th anniversary and, in the words of Facebook’s official Twitter account, reflect “on how the world has changed, the challenges we’ve faced, the progress we’ve made, and where we’re going.”
In the note, Zuckerberg once again recounts his dorm room decision to create “a simple website organized around people,” which eventually grew to more than 2 billion users.
The CEO also notes the “new social and ethical issues” Facebook is now grappling with and that the company plans to invest billions of dollars into security this year.
“This year we plan to spend more on safety and security than our whole revenue at the time of our IPO,” Zuckerberg wrote. Facebook took in more than $3.7 billion in revenue in 2011, the year of its initial public offering.
But besides promising new investment into fixing Facebook’s problems, Zuckerberg once again claims that Facebook’s toughest critics are simply being too “negative.”
At the same time, there is another force at play as well. As networks of people replace traditional hierarchies and reshape many institutions in our society — from government to business to media to communities and more — there is a tendency of some people to lament this change, to overly emphasize the negative, and in some cases to go so far as saying the shift to empowering people in the ways the internet and these networks do is mostly harmful to society and democracy.
To the contrary, while any rapid social change creates uncertainty, I believe what we’re seeing is people having more power, and a long term trend reshaping society to be more open and accountable over time.
Though similar to comments Zuck has made in the past, the comments struck many observers as particularly tone deaf, especially when considering Facebook’s role in Russian election interference, mob violence in India, and genocide in Myanmar.
Zuckerberg also continues a talking point that we’ve seen in speeches from Sheryl Sandberg that “some people” resisting change will “overly emphasize the negative.”
This is… wild. Dismissing valid criticisms (i.e. Myanmar) as noise from people resistant to change is gross. pic.twitter.com/nlEjPNxGEu
— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) February 4, 2019
This is madness.
Mark Zuckerberg, his company credibly accused of compromising multiple democratic elections and abetting ethnic violence, dismisses criticism as people emphasizing the negative.
— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) February 4, 2019
imperfect analogy, but imagine Facebook as a town. People tell the mayor “the schools are terrible!!!” and the mayor responds with “but our roads work! Shouldn’t we celebrate that you can get to school?”
And also the mayor is permanent.https://t.co/VwGnqfttj3
— Sarah Frier (@sarahfrier) February 4, 2019
The note is Zuckerberg’s latest attempt to push back at critics. Last month, the CEO penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed in defense of Facebook’s multibillion-dollar advertising business.
“We’re very focused on helping people share and connect more, because the purpose of our service is to help people stay in touch with family, friends and communities,” he wrote.
You can read Zuckerberg’s full note here.