Social Media's Image Make-over To Counter Facebook Movies & Books
With a limited amount of time left to work damage control, Mark Zuckerberg has been diligently trying to improve his self image, tarnished by movies and books that have spotlighted some of the young CEO's not so shining moments. Now ranking thirty-fifth on the Forbes' annual list of wealthy Americans and worth $6.9 billion, Mr. Zuckerberg is using his vast riches to help with his corporate make-over. However, like Kermit the Frog - the Z-Man might find that it "ain't easy being green."
Perhaps youth was a contributing factor in Zuckerberg's boondoggle of negative publicity. Being thrust into Internet stardom at the ripe old age of 19 might have been at the root of his "bad boy" image. However, the paradox of offering the world an 'open' and 'transparent' social network, while calling one's followers "dumb f*cks" is something that a lot of folks have had a hard time writing off as an immature faux pas.
This coupled with the number of the college associates he stepped over to seize majority control of Facebook for himself - Zuckerberg is carrying a lot of baggage from his formative years at Harvard.
Even of most recent date, in a post, titled "Social Media's Bully Allows His Reputation To Proceed Him," there were some politically-incorrect actions made by the CEO that didn't help in the image rehabilitation department. Filing a lawsuit against a fledgling professional social network for using the word "book" in their "Teachbook" title and censoring ads for California's "Just Say Now" Proposition 19 marijuana campaign were two recent cases not received very well by his now 500+ million user-base.
Now with the movie premieres of both "Catfish" and "The Social Network" coupled with the unauthorized biography, "The Accidental Billionaire," and a graphic novel satire titled "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks" - Zuckerberg is feeling the pressure from world he thought he had under control.
In reeling from the after-shock, I'm sure Facebook's PR department has been working longer hours than their engineers to counter this negative publicity onslaught. And since philanthropy is one of the quickest ways to soften one's negative image in the press, Facebook has embraced a couple of causes that will hopefully rehabilitate Mark's image globally.
Earlier this month, during "Stand Up To Cancer's" telethon, Facebook announced it would donate a 100 percent of all the Facebook Credit donations that were raised for the cause. Normally Facebook takes a 30 percent commission of all Facebook Credit transactions. By waiving their fees, founder Mark Zuckerberg established himself as a charitable entrepreneur following in the footsteps of one of his idols and preeminent philanthropists - Bill Gates.
Then on September 22, Richard Perez Pena from the NY Times wrote, "Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive and a founder of Facebook, has agreed to donate $100 million to improve the long-troubled public schools in Newark, and Gov. Chris Christie will cede some control of the state-run system to Mayor Cory A. Booker in conjunction with the huge gift."
The three men plan to announce the arrangement September 24 on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Why "Newark, New Jersey" was chosen was not really explained, except to indicate that Zuckerberg and Mayor Booker met at a conference and began a continuing conversation regarding Newark's need to improve upon one of the nation's poorest school systems. The $100 million would start a foundation under Zuckerberg's name and will certainly help in redeeming his credibility as an entrepreneur interested in furthering educational causes.
UPDATE: Announcement on the Oprah Winfrey show
So, the jury is out, readers. The suspicious timing of both of these actions may be "too little too late," or it may be an opportunity for the CEO of the world's largest social network to carve out a new role for himself. While Zuckerberg abhors the fact that these movies and books expose some of his fatal flaws and foibles of the past, perhaps they were necessary to humble a young man that experienced too much success too early in life.
Or is this simply a ploy to quiet the 'maddening crowds' while he continues to attend to his ultimate goal. Pick up a copy of "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks" and let me know your thoughts?
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