“Mark Zuckerberg Believes Only in Mark Zuckerberg”
WIRED, June 3, 2020
By Siva Vaidhyanathan
“Why is he abetting Trump while civil rights leaders and his own employees rebuke him? It’s about dominance.”
What does Mark Zuckerberg believe? What does he really care about? How could a man who marched in a gay pride parade, who advocated for increased immigration to the United States, who hired a high-profile Democrat and feminist as his second-in-command, sit and eat with Donald Trump?
Why, at a moment of global and national crisis, when more than 100,000 Americans have died of a virus that could have been contained by a competent government, a quarter of Americans are in danger of being evicted or thrown into poverty, and thousands of Americans are facing off against violent police forces in the streets of cities and towns of all sizes, does Zuckerberg get on the phone with Trump for a nice chat?
Like other billionaires, Zuckerberg has the money, power, and influence to take a stand against such malfeasance and malevolence. With three global platforms—Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp—capable of structuring the cultural and intellectual experience of billions around the world, Zuckerberg chooses to do the opposite. He chooses to bolster Trump and other authoritarians, despite all the harm they do to the world.
Zuckerberg knew in 2016 that Trump was a racist. He knew that Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women. Yet Zuckerberg allowed Facebook employees to help Trump use Facebook more effectively, certainly contributing to the electoral college win.
How could a person who seems so cosmopolitan let his company effectively support the campaigns of authoritarian nationalists like Narendra Modi in India or Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines? Why does he let them use his platforms to terrorize critics, journalists, and scholars?
Over the past two weeks these questions have taken on a new urgency as Facebook employees have for the first time publicly voiced anger and frustration with Zuckerberg’s decision to protect Trump’s calls for state violence against those who are protesting racist police violence. While Twitter took a modest stand against Trump’s hyperbolic threats, Zuckerberg announced that he sees the posts as different from those that threaten violence because they were about the use of “state force.” Seriously.