With the swelling confidence of a colonial power happening upon a long-settled distant land, today Mark Zuckerberg discovered the concept of privacy.
In a ballooning 3,225 words — a roughly average word count for the terminally verbose Facebook founder — Zuckerberg informed his miserably loyal 2.3 billion plus subjects that his company has happened upon a concept known as privacy and in doing so it sees an opportunity. But can Facebook reform its 15 year legacy as devourer of all things private with a single sweeping, underedited screed from its copycat visionary and dark pattern technocrat?
In articulating his vision, all 3,225 words worth, Zuckerberg predictably failed to own the fact that his company singlehandedly created the modern concept of social media as a cash-printing machine that mines our innermost thoughts, desires and connections. The whole thing is a self-parody so on the nose it’s almost boring. And it’s a bummer, because “A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking” could be a compelling declaration (please deliver us!) from nearly any company that isn’t Facebook.
“I believe there’s an opportunity to set a new standard for private communication platforms — where content automatically expires or is archived over time,” Zuckerberg wrote, thinking about privacy for the third time. “…This philosophy could be extended to all private content.”
Unfortunately, no company can build anything interesting in the social media space because Facebook’s well-established wildly aggressive stance toward competitors means that the game over before the game even begins. If the big blue acquirer doesn’t capture, it kills.
Surely it’s pure coincidence that Facebook’s sudden interest in privacy comes as the company faces an ever-cresting tidal wave of public backlash and heavy breathing from thirsty regulators in Congress. Sated after sopping up all of the ad dollars drifting around the wreckage of a soul-crushingly monetized social web, Facebook realizes it’s probably time to chart a different path forward. Luckily, it picked up some brands people hate less along the way.