Do you ever wonder whether those who run technology companies actually use the products they sell? I don’t doubt that Apple CEO Tim Cook uses a Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch and other products with the Apple logo.
Does Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg actually use Facebook? Do he and his lovely wife log in like the rest of humanity? Do they know that Facebook has compiled more of an encyclopedia of data vs. dossier brief of their online activities?
There are times after I’ve used a product that just didn’t work very well that I wonder if those who designed it actually used it after it was manufactured? Does Facebook capture the same type of data from Zuckerberg and his wife when he’s online as it does when my wife and I use Facebook?
I doubt it. I doubt, too, that Google’s founders worry about Google tracking them while they browse the interwebs or use various apps on their Chromebooks, PCs, or Google Pixel smartphones. Surely they know what Google tracks. Surely they have built-in safeguards to ensure that whatever Google captures about their online habits gets scrubbed.
Honestly, there are times when I am sure that leaders of many technology firms think of their
customers users as complete idiots; little more than creatures bred to collect data; human sheep, stripped of their information wool every x-number of days. They say that people only change their behavior when there is pain. That can be applied to companies, too. As a former presidential candidate once said, “corporations are people, my friend.”
I bring this point to bear because a Facebook memo revealed that the company’s growth should come at any cost. Even if it killed someone.
Facebook’s good (according to Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth):
We connect people. That can be good if they make it positive. Maybe someone finds love. Maybe it even saves the life of someone on the brink of suicide. So we connect more people
That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools
Somehow that sounds like “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Or, put another way. “It’s not our fault if someone uses our product to kill.”
We connect people. Period. That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices.
Yeah, I have a problem with that. Facebook abdicates responsibility for their product. How is that different than tobacco companies which hid the impact their products had on humankind?
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg:
Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We’ve never believed the ends justify the means.
Of course, that quote from Zuckerberg came after Facebook’s public relations disaster over Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of Facebook member’s data.
What we should take from Facebook’s perspective– likely echoed by leaders at Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and other technology giants with hundreds of millions to billions of customers and users, is that they may think of us as sheep. Sheep are not very smart. Not all of humankind carries the same set of genes, but we’re not all idiots, either.
Smart technologists, smart corporations (because they’re persons, too) have ethics and values and work diligently to treat their customers with respect. Facebook’s changes to privacy– brought about by discovery of wrongdoing– tells us they did not respect their users’ privacy when they should have.
Yes, it was Facebook’s growth at all costs and by any means, even if they treated their users as idiots.
We’re not. And that’s why Facebook is in trouble these days.