In an interview with Ezra Klein of Vox, Mark Zuckerberg rattled global markets with the prima facie laughable assertion that Tim Cook is “extremely glib.” If Tim Cook is extremely glib, what was Steve Jobs? Now that was “glib” personified. Tim Cook and “reality distortion field,” do they really go together? Don’t think so. Technically, Zuckerberg didn’t call Cook himself extremely glib, just what he said about Facebook–that Cook wouldn’t have gotten himself into Facebook’s pickle in the first place, because Apple builds great products and sell them to customers and that that’s a sounder business model than Facebook’s flim-flam.
Zuckerberg denied that the business model of “monetizing user attention” is an intractable problem. His response to Klein was deflective, though: “you know, I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth.” Zuckerberg then tried to align himself with truth, with mixed success at best. His snippish remark that “it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you.” I found this a little bit plausible, until I read Josh Barro’s retort on Twitter that “Apple is a company that works hard to charge you more. Amazon is a company that works hard to charge you less. Facebook is a company that works hard to charge someone else more for access to you.” That seems a much fairer summary of where we are than Zuckerberg’s self-serving doublespeak.
I don’t imagine that Zuckerberg is enjoying his tour of media outlets, or the downward trajectory of Facebook stock, even less his impending Congressional testimony (or the backlash if he continues to refuse to testify in the UK about Cambridge Analytica). Zuckerberg’s goal in speaking publicly, I assume, is to shape any future government regulations in the US and Europe and, perhaps just as importantly, across other hemispheres.
I do hope the 99%, of whom I am one, can afford to enjoy the oligarch vs. oligarch trashtalking that may be coming Not sure that they will achieve the heights of Little Rocket Man vs. The Dotard, but one can hope. I would like to savor an Apple vs. Facebook vs. Google circular firing squad, kayfabe or real, while waiting for the autumn elections to provide us with the possibility of real oversight of both political authoritarianism and corruption and tech oligarch abuses. Of course neither political party is immune to capture by the tech giants, but the president’s recent attacks on Amazon are transparently abusive and ominous. Disclosure: I have never joined Facebook, and only completed one under-$20 Amazon purchase about ten years ago and never again, I hope. It is inconvenient, though, for many of us to even try to disentangle from our new tech overlords–and I do use Google and Apple daily.
P.S. Have duly noted that Facebook’s motto/mission statement was once “move fast and break things” and is now “bring the world closer together.”