How dangerous was the Facebook AI

Facebook boss in the twilight : How dangerous is Mark Zuckerberg?

It was a Tuesday in November eight years ago when Mark Zuckerberg received a visit from the real world. He is sitting with the top management of Facebook in a conference room at his company headquarters in Palo Alto. It's about a technical innovation that has just succeeded. The new messenger service is running smoothly. An elderly gentleman enters the room, which is glazed on three sides. Maybe he's the only gray-haired man in the whole building. Certainly the only one in a suit and tie, the insignia of the old order.

The man shakes hands with the surprised Mark Zuckerberg and introduces himself. He just had to stop by. He, Robert Mueller, director of the FBI. Director of an authority that has recognized that it has a far smaller database than Facebook, has significantly less information about its citizens, that no state ever knew as much about its population as the company of the then 26-year-old who was there stands in front of him.

Today Mueller is a special investigator and is supposed to clear up Russia's involvement in the last US presidential election. And Mark Zuckerberg finds himself in one of the biggest data scandals in history. The British company Cambridge Analytica has obtained information from up to 50 million Facebook users and apparently used the data to influence the US election in favor of Donald Trump. The digital and real world can no longer be separated.

1.4 billion people use Facebook every day. And only very few of them are able to answer the question that drove Robert Mueller to Palo Alto back then: Who the hell is the man who conjured up this new age of the Internet? Who is Mark Zuckerberg?

His privacy is important to Zuckerberg

You cannot send him a friend request. But of course he has a Facebook page where he reveals that he is married to Priscilla Chan and that he invented this Facebook. 105 177 955 people like this. A few photos show him with his two little daughters August and Maxima. That's it. And that's not much information for a man whose business model is to know everything about his users. Facebook tracks which shoes we like to wear, whether we're looking for a bit of closeness on Tinder or a promotion on LinkedIn, what music we like, which parties we're likely to vote for, where we go for a walk, and who we cry to on Whatsapp. This is because customers pay good money to only show advertisements to users who are really interested in their products.

On the other hand, it is comparatively difficult to find out what one could actually sell to the man who, with an estimated fortune of 67 billion dollars, can afford almost anything. His own privacy is important to him.

The author Lev Grossmann is one of the few people who Zuckerberg allowed a little insight. In a large report for “Time” magazine, he paints the picture of a genius. A visionary.
Mark Zuckerberg was born in White Plains, New York, in 1984. And his father Ed Zuckerberg was convinced early on that his son would later become a lawyer and wrap every jury around his finger. It turns out differently. The young Zuckerberg is more interested in his Quantex 486DX computer on which he starts his first attempts at programming. By the time he was twelve, he was said to have come up with an intranet for his home. The parents support him, bring in the craftsmen to lay the cables and wires in the house. He puts his bar mitzvah under the motto "Star Wars". He later developed his own PC games. Among other things, a version of "risk". Reach for the stars, conquer the world, that's how you can interpret what little you know from your youth, but it's not that simple.

He founded Facebook in the student dormitory

In the film “The Social Network” in 2009, Zuckerberg is portrayed as someone who is emotionally handicapped, who invented Facebook in order to finally connect with girls. “They had no idea of ​​our actual motivation - that we just think it's an incredibly crazy story we're making,” Zuckerberg said at the time. In fact, Zuckerberg lived in stable relationships all his life. First to his parents, later to his wife and children. Friends at Havard University were later to be among his closest collaborators.

It's the sophomore year in college when he first laid the groundwork for Facebook. At the time, he called the website he wrote "Facematch". From the yearbooks, which are called “Face Books” in the USA, he gets photos of students and always lets two compete against each other and other users vote on who is more attractive. This results in a ranking of the most popular students. The site is so successful that Havard has to take it offline because the server capacity is insufficient.

On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg published Facebook from the room of his dormitory. If you believe Zuckerberg and his confidants, he didn't create Facebook because he feels isolated. But because he wants everyone to have a life, a network that he enjoys. Zuckerberg himself once said: “We try to depict the world as it is. I believe that as human beings we explore the world through people, through our relationships. "

For years, employees have only said good things about him

His vision of the Internet goes against everything that has been standard up to now. If the Internet was previously a network of computers over which no one has sole control, Zuckerberg sees it as a network of people. While the internet was previously a place of freedom and anonymity where everyone could reinvent themselves, Zuckerberg is turning the internet into a global living room. Zuckerberg brought the virtual to the real world again. He is convinced that this is what people want. And what they want, what is going on in their heads, has always interested him. “At college, I also got a degree in psychology while I graduated in computer science,” he says.

For years you only hear good things about Zuckerberg from employees. A man who lives Facebook, who lives the motto “Bringing the world closer together”. A philanthropist who donates billions, for years has preferred to drive an Acura than a Lexus, who at the age of 22 turns down a billions on Yahoo! , but a step on a new level in the evolution of how we understand each other as humans.

But that's only one side of the story.

The story of Facebook is also that of a company that does everything to grow. “Move fast and break things” - that was Facebook's motto, it was even written on the walls of the headquarters. Be quick - and if it goes wrong, you can always apologize. Mark Zuckerberg internalized that.

Copy and destroy

For years, the privacy of the user has been less important to him than economic success. The advertising business always comes first. As early as 2010, Facebook came under fire for passing on user data to third parties. In 2014 it became known that two years earlier Facebook had turned hundreds of thousands of its users into test subjects in order to find out in a study how positive and negative emotions spread in networks.

The users didn't care. There were more and more.

Zuckerberg has managed to neutralize all competitors who could pose a threat to Facebook. "Copy and Crush" is what it is called. When "Periscope" came up - an app for video transmission in real time - Zuckerberg simply built a similar function into Facebook. Users now use their Facebook access to log on to other websites, tell their friends that they are safe in the event of a terrorist attack and write messages via Facebook Messenger if they would have typed an SMS earlier. Today, Facebook includes Whatsapp and Instagram, which are probably the most popular photo sharing sites.

Facebook is without a doubt one of the most powerful corporations in the world. It just didn't give Mark Zuckerberg the feeling of being responsible.

He believes that Facebook has democratized information. Everyone can say what they want here. Whatever attracts interest spreads out faster than anything else. For a long time, Facebook did not differentiate between fake news, satire and real news, and in Germany it still does not do so today. Zuckerberg always suggested to politics: Trust us, don't regulate us, we know what we're doing.

Do you know it?

Facebook is in the deepest crisis in its history. The company's fabulous rise may soon be over.

Zuckerberg's dilemma began in 2016, when it emerged that in the US presidential election campaign, Russian actors with Kremlin connections apparently launched reports of hacked emails from the US Democrats and used Facebook to stir the mood for Donald Trump. They published articles with fabricated statements allegedly telling Trump's opponents about gun possession, abortion or terrorism. Facebook's security chief Alex Stamos is said to have reported this internally, but Zuckerberg calls the idea that false news had influenced the election result “pretty crazy”.

Attack on his life's work

In September 2017, Zuckerberg then sits in a T-shirt in front of a corner of the sofa in the headquarters, looks directly at the camera and says that Facebook cannot prevent all bad content. “Freedom means you don't have to ask permission first. That means you can say what you want. But if you break our community standards or the law, you will feel the consequences. "

A little later it turns out that 80,000 articles from the Russian fake news campaign were potentially displayed to 126 million users. In the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, Zuckerberg apparently had known about the illegal data acquisition for years. And did - nothing.

Since the beginning of the week, Facebook has lost billions of dollars in market value, the British data protection authority is investigating Cambridge Analytica, and prosecutors in the USA have also started investigations. Shareholders are suing Facebook.

If the attack on his life's work touches him, Zuckerberg doesn't show it. He stands by his vision. He wants to make the world a better place. But he doesn't see the side effects. Or don't want to see them.

When FBI chief Robert Mueller came into his conference room eight years ago, that wasn't a warning to him. Only hours after the meeting, employees later tell themselves, Zuckerberg needs to be reminded of who the man was.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page