CBS shows Mark Zuckerberg is a human. Does that matter?

CBS This Morning did a profile taking viewers inside the home of Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. It was a big wet smooch. Will this help Zuckerberg and Facebook? Sure. Now we know that rather than being a robot with an evil product, he’s a human.

Every CEO has an image, and tech CEOs in particular are larger than life. Bill Gates was a nerd who got decent at explaining himself. Steve Jobs was brilliant, obsessed, and brutal. Jeff Bezos is aggressively competent and fiercely competitive. Elon Musk is awesomely creative and a little unhinged.

And Mark Zuckerberg is a robot with dead eyes who can’t connect.

I’m sure Zuckerberg’s image isn’t who he is, but it certainly reflects how he is perceived. It’s not helping. If I told you that Zuck had at some point been replaced with an AI, a lot of you would say, “Ah, I knew it.”

So somebody in Facebook’s beleaguered PR department decided it was time for him to let the puff-piece-iest journalists possible to do a profile revealing that Zuck is human.

The result is this piece from CBS This Morning with anchor Gayle King. They talk about Zuck and Priscilla’s date night, make some kind of baked goods with their two daughters, and get Zuck to actually giggle in a non-robotic way.

And in case you were wondering if any actual journalism took place, there’s a question about whether Facebook should be broken up or regulated in a second follow-up segment. (Guess the answer.)

This is on the fringes of journalism, but since we are all curious, I guess it qualifies as something useful. I didn’t learn anything. But I never thought Zuck was robot. Those who did will see that he is an actual person, husband, and father. (I suspect there was an agreement of some kind not to grill him about Facebook policies, and CBS agreed to it in exchange for getting let into his home.)

How I think differently about Facebook now

I don’t. This changed nothing.

I still think Zuckerberg and his management team run Facebook in service to the almighty algorithm above all other business or moral considerations. (Read the Laws of Facebook, see if you agree.)

I still think the consequence of that is that false information, false advertising, and incendiary content spread unabated and poison our information stream. Facebook assaults truth, and Facebook is winning.

I still think any nods to privacy are just for show, and that in the end, because our data is the fuel that runs Facebook, it will collect and use as much of it as it can.

And I still think only regulation can stop it.

Zuckerberg is a visionary, just as much as Gates, Jobs, Bezos, or Musk. Only a special kind of human can be smart and versatile enough to pursue a vision like this and succeed.

So I am not surprised to see that Mark Zuckerberg is a human with a wife, a family, and a home life.

He’s not evil.

But Facebook is. And we need to hold him responsible for that.

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