Just when you thought the furor over Facebook's infringement of users' privacy rights was beginning to settle down somewhat, within the last week Mark Zuckerberg's social network stirs the pot once again, both figuratively and literally.
From censoring Just Say Now marijuana ads to help support Proposition 19 in California to suing a start-up social network because they dared to use the word "book' in their title, the number-one social network in the land is once again acting like the "bully in the school yard."
With ads topping more than 38 million impressions on their network, Facebook decides to halt the Just Say Now ads because it doesn't abide by the network's Terms of Service guidelines pertaining to "smoking" and tobacco products" (see previous post, "Social Media Kettle Calling The Pot Black").
Facebook's censorship move not only suppresses freedom of speech but it also blocks the ability to have an open and transparent discussion and debate about a critical issue supported by a large portion of the populace (and somewhat hypocritical since "open" and "transparent" are the underlying core tenets of the Open Graph).
In tandem, Facebook decided last week to file a lawsuit against Teachbook, a newly formed professional community established for teachers to design and share lesson plans, instructional videos, online gradebooks and to also communicate with parents.
The reason for the suit sounds frivolous as Facebook's case lies solely on objecting to the use of the word "book" in Teachbook's title - which the mega-social network says "competes" with Facebook's name. There is no other similarity between Facebook's infrastructure and Teachbook's.
It's hard to understand why Facebook would initiate such a meaningless lawsuit on such limited merit. While redefining what "privacy" means to Internet users is a debate worth having, and one that will endure for many years to come - trying to shake down a niche social network based on such a claim can only be perceived as a bully who continually likes to beat up on the "little guy"- just because he can (anyone see anything Freudian here?)
The Social Network MovieFor those that have not read the book (The Accidental Billionaires…), or the screenplay for the upcoming movie, The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg's life is going to be made very public in the next few months. While he has objected to what's been written about him, and claims they are full of falsehoods, witnesses over the years have repeatedly said the one personality trait that best defines the man - is low self esteem.
From his Harvard days, Zuckerberg has struggled with the paradox of "entitlement" based on his genius conflicting with his "lack of acceptance" as a result of an Asperger-like inability to connect with people. The irony of 'Mark Zuckerberg' is in seeking to establish an open and transparent social network - it's the opinion of many - he lacks the ability to network on a personal level.
The power and clout that Facebook now has is obvious. But like the government of a sovereign state, when that type of power distorts rational thinking and logic is displaced by hubris, it will not be able to sustain itself over the long haul - as dissent starts undermining its credibility.
The Big Brother tactics of censoring ads and the senseless belief that the company owns the rights to words like "book" is some scary stuff - particularly for a network that has pushed passed its 500 million user milestone. Zuckerberg is the Pied Piper of the day and is satirically illustrated in the upcoming graphic novel, "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks." Hopefully his blind followers will keep one eye open before they reach the final precipice - or point of 'no return.'
Facebucks & Dumb F*cks Graphic Novel