'Resign from Facebook': experts offer Mark Zuckerberg advice for 2019

Guardian Technology 01 Jan 2019 06:00
Mark Zuckerberg should ‘resign and find a pursuit that will teach him humility and help him find his moral compass’, suggested one person. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

When Mark Zuckerberg began his annual “personal challenges” in 2009, he set the bar pretty low: he dressed like an adult every day for a year. Subsequent challenges were squarely in the realm of achievable New Year’s resolutions, from reading a book every two weeks and running a mile a day to starting to learn Mandarin and sending thank you notes.

But as Zuckerberg has transitioned his public image from the kid cosplaying as a business executive to the no-longer-quite-a-kid cosplaying as a statesman, his personal challenges have become something of a bellwether for how he is thinking about Facebook’s future. In 2016, when it seemed that Facebook’s challenges were still largely technological, he set out to build his own smart home system. In 2017, when political polarization was still being chalked up to filter bubbles, he embarked on a road trip around the US. And in 2018, when fake news and foreign interference were dominating headlines, he promised to buckle down and “focus on fixing” all of the various “issues” that had left the one-time prodigy looking more and more like a pariah.

Twelve months later, it seems that for the first time, Zuckerberg has failed to meet his goal. Not only has he not fixed Facebook, the list of problems with the social network has grown so long that it’s getting harder to find people who think the company is even fixable.

Here’s what they said …

Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

Jessica Powell, author and former Google executive

Should be: Understanding his own company. I could send him a substantial reading list of scholarship that assesses the influence of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in the world. Zuckerberg could take a three-month sabbatical to digest all that work. Better than that, Zuckerberg could take a two-year sabbatical from Facebook, enroll at the University of Virginia, and finish his bachelor’s degree under my direction. That would serve him – and his company and all its users – better than just about anything else he could do.

Matt Klinman, comedian

Rachel Coldicutt, CEO of doteveryone

Daphne Keller, director at Stanford Center for Internet and Society

Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change

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