Minus 6 Billion In Few Hours: Mark Zuckerberg Calculates Loses From Facebook Disruption

mark zuckerberg facebook loss

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is assessing his losses following a massive global outage that struck Facebook, its affiliate platforms Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, which were down for about 7 hours on Monday, October 4th. During this time, Zuckerberg reduced his wealth by more than 6 billion US dollars. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Zuckerberg plummeted to sixth place. Now he stands after Bill Gates and has an income of 120.9 billion.

Minus 6 Billion In Few Hours: Mark Zuckerberg Calculates Loses From Facebook Disruption

Although before that he was a step higher with an income of $140 billion. Oddly enough, but the reason for such large damage and descent in the ranking of the richest people on the planet is a malfunction in the system. The social media giant hasn't been up for quite a while. The Instagram and Facebook feed was not updated, users were unable to send a message, post a post or make a story.

It so happened that Zuckerberg's shares fell to 5%. In addition to this fall, another 15% decrease in the state, which has been traced since September. All this influenced not only the capitalization but also the reputation of social networks.

The first to reveal the details of the work of the social network Facebook was its ex-employee, Frances Haugen. A 37-year-old employee told shocking information about working with content. So, the woman said that to get rich, the social network decided to turn a blind eye to the damage it caused to its users.

It is known that Haugen quit the company herself almost six months ago, in May. She stated that Facebook's promotion algorithms had a detrimental effect on society.

Within a few hours, the CEO of social networks Zuckerberg replied that all accusations against the company were invalid, in particular, that it puts wealth above the safety of users.

What exactly is it about?

The fact is that in the spring of this year, a woman called a non-profit organization Whistleblower Aid. The company itself is engaged in helping to uncover violations of the law, working with the population, which is ready to provide it. The woman called directly the founder of the office, John Tey, and assured him that she worked for Facebook.

She shared some rather shocking information. When she worked for the company she was able to openly view tens of thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents. When she called a lawyer, she constantly asked for legal protection from Tey's company. And also asked for legal assistance to painlessly disclose confidential information. So they made a series of calls.

John Tay agreed to help her and provided her with the pseudonym "SEAN", thanks to which she could communicate with the journalists who were investigating without worrying about her safety.

The second global fall of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger: why did this happen?

This is not the first time such a global outage of all Mark Zuckerberg networks has happened. But on October 4, all the cards were revealed. The woman who spoke to reporters under the pseudonym Sean turned out to be Francis Haugen. This is one of the Facebook employees who has been with the company for about 2 years as a product manager.

Minus 6 Billion In Few Hours: Mark Zuckerberg Calculates Loses From Facebook Disruption

All this time, Haugen not only worked but collected the necessary documents. In all the papers collected, there was evidence that Facebook is harming the public and is aware of the harm done, but does nothing about it. Haugen turned over all documents to legislatures, journalists, and oversight bodies to make the information public.

After that, Haugen gave several interviews. One of which is in the American program “60 minutes”, where the woman confessed that she was very excited about what she had to see among the documents of the company. The woman claims that very often the company did not think about the impact on the public, but put its interests above everything, which caused great harm to society.

At the same time, Haugen said that this is not her first place of work and she has something to compare with. This is why she believes the Facebook founders are wrong:

“I have been in this business for a long time. I completed my MBA at Harvard, I have a degree in computer engineering, and also worked at Pinterest and Google for about 15 years. Therefore, for all the time I saw many different social networks, but what I saw on Facebook went beyond all limits. They have proven that profits are more important to them than users and their safety. That's just terrible.”

The Wall Street Journal took over the Facebook case. For this purpose, Haugen gave them all the materials she obtained. Already in September 2021, the publication began publishing articles on this topic. This series of investigative materials became known as “Facebook Files”.

Minus 6 Billion In Few Hours: Mark Zuckerberg Calculates Loses From Facebook Disruption

It is worth noting that already in the very first investigation there was the most resonant information. For example, those rules that supposedly apply to everyone when publishing certain content do not apply to VIPs.

These are the people who, unlike everyone else, can publish videos that, for example, incite hostility, on religious grounds, and also have shots of violence.

There is a special program for this called XCheck or cross-validation. It provided special conditions for luxury profiles.

The next investigation focused on the safety of adolescents. As it turns out, it is under the greatest threat on the Instagram network that teenage girls use the most. It turned out that some of the content that is covered on the platform can lead to the suicide of adolescents or the onset of anorexia or bulimia, lower their self-esteem, and so on.

It became known that Zuckerberg's companies had research on this topic, that is, they were fully aware of what they were doing and continued to release such content.

They knew about the toxicity of Instagram through their research. Especially for a large number of adolescents, but also older people as well.

But at the same time, in public speeches, Zuckerberg's company was simply silent about everything it knew or artificially diminished information about the negative impact of networks.

In addition, most of the research conducted by Facebook remains inside company information.

So, according to one of the internal studies that became available thanks to Haugen, Instagram increases the tendency to suicide in almost 14% of girls, and 17% develop eating disorders.

What is Facebook's fault?

Francis Haugen believes that the company's management is increasing the flow of new users to the network, not noticing the obvious harm and not even trying to deal with the consequences.

A Facebook employee explains that the company only offers the content it needs:

“If you surf the web for about 5 minutes, then flipping through the feed you will see about 100 publications. However, Facebook already knows what to offer you. It has special algorithms for this. And in fact, there are a million options. It only suggests what you need, based on what you've already viewed and what you're interested in.”

Among the selection criteria for displaying content is the one that evokes the strongest reactions from users and can get their attention.

In the course of a study conducted by the Facebook platform, it turned out that to attract users and provoke a reaction from them, content in which enmity is promoted, hatred, is divided into poles of society, works very well. It is thanks to this information that the number of followers begins to grow.

In addition, angry content and misinformation provoke people to the most violent emotions and reactions. This is how content that has this message can keep the user on the platform.

The creators of Facebook quickly figured out that if they decide to change the content to be safe for users, then those, in turn, will simply stop sitting on the website as much as they used to, or will react on such ports less. This means that the network will only lose money from this. It’s very unprofitable according to Haugen.

The first who guessed about such an algorithm of the Facebook platform was European political strategists. They were promoting their politicians on social media at this time. Then parties from different European countries complained to Facebook about such algorithms. This was written in an internal report by Zuckerberg's company in 2019.

They wrote that because of this algorithm work, they had to write such political messages that incite hostility and carry negative emotions. Everything to attract users. For the sake of increasing the number of followers, they conditionally repainted in a dark tone and became more rigid in their views.

After that, European political forces began to write messages to Facebook that the social network algorithm is forcing them to change their policies:

“You make it so that we have to act in a role that we would not want to be because this role only harms society. We have to get tough and stir up animosity in society. Because if we do not do this, we will not be able to become popular and attract enough users,” added Frances Haugen.

The woman voiced all claims against the platform during a Senate hearing. There was a parallel text broadcast of the meeting at the time. Haugen blamed Zuckerberg's platform. However, his team in real-time began to deny all the accusations against them.

In addition, while talking about the dangers of Instagram for teenage girls, one of the representatives of the Zuckerberg platform Andy Stone posted on his Twitter page, where he indicated that Haugen did not work in the department of questions related to the safety of teenage children on Instagram, so she has neither data nor knowledge on this topic and all her opinions are not verified and competent.

After holding a public hearing, Andy Stone put it in a post on social media that Haugen was not in a position that required knowledge of all the mechanisms of the Facebook platform. Therefore, they strongly disagreed with those interviews in which she accused their company of fraud. He said, that she was not an expert in that matter, so she could not comment on many issues related to the platform and social media in general.

The founder of the platform did not hesitate to answer. He wrote a post in which all accusations from Haugen were called untrue. The businessman argued that everything written by his ex-employee does not make sense and is not professional, but only her subjective opinion.

Mark Zuckerberg asked his opponent a couple of clarifying questions in his post:

“If we were indifferent to research in this area, then why would we create a major industry research program that examined the impact of social media on society? Then, if we didn’t think about the fight against harmful content, then why would we hire many times more people who deal with these issues? Moreover, our number of staff is several times greater than in any other company,” said Zuckerberg.

In addition, he expressed himself about making money on unsafe content:

“I think it is not logical to say that we are promoting content that is harmful to people. We earn mainly from advertising. And advertisers themselves do not want their ads to touch harmful or hostile content in any way.

Besides, I don't know any tech company that builds their products on oppressing the population and inciting animosity between them."

At the same time, during her speech, Haugen stated that she did not want the Facebook platform to stop working and shut down. On the contrary, she advocated that the developers took into account her appeal and made sure that the voiced problems were corrected.

According to Haugen, the platform's management knows exactly about their problems and knows how to solve them, and how to make social networks more secure. However, they lack a high-profile scandal that will make them choose not enrichment and profit but take the side of the comfort of their users.

Haugen believes that until Zuckerberg's social network is pressed against the wall, they will not begin to act.

Democrat Senator Ed Markey thanked Haugen for her speech and work and called the woman an American hero of the 21st century. And very emotionally he said that the next turn was coming to Zuckerberg.

“This is my message to Mark Zuckerberg: Your time is over when you could afford to prey on kids and teens through toxic content, privacy, breaches, and dividend payments. Now we all know and will not allow your company to kill our children, divide families and destroy democracy in our country,” said the senator.

In addition, Senator Richard Blumenthal recommended that Mark Zuckerberg speak before the American Congress of his own free will and without coercion. According to the politician, the owner of Facebook is himself responsible to society and is obliged to go out and answer all the questions that people have left.