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Mark Zuckerberg Should Resign, And If You're A Technology Reporter, So Should You
Mark's rise to prominence has been aided by repeated, acute journalistic failure.

May 13, 2011
Also published on Quora

At this point in time, almost eight years after writing the formatFacebook() function and designing the user interface for houseSYSTEM's Facebook, I've said everything I could possibly say about the topic of Facebook, Inc.'s origins—in stark contrast to every other one of the company's founders or would-be founders. At considerable cost to my own reputation, I've made no secret of my views on Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, by writing short op-ed columns, long essays, and even a book partly about the blatant deception surrounding the company's birth and its unfortunately vast implications. I've made hundreds of pages of documents available to the public. Traditional media outlets have refused to publish my work time and time again, opting for sensationalized, fictitious, or simply wrong accounts.

I get it. The public wants positive content with sex appeal, not facts. Reporters want access and therefore can't afford controversy. So how many years of ignoring the truth is enough?

I was once naive enough to think the answer might be one or two, then three. By year four I was frustrated and angry, until being vindicated by the New York Times. That is, until years five and six, when The Social Network told a skewed version of the story to millions. Now, here we are, well into year seven, and the technology community is aghast because under Mark Zuckerberg's watch, someone at Facebook approved an underhanded, dishonest, and rather disgusting public relations ploy against Google, a (sort-of?) competitor.

Ladies and gentlemen of Silicon Valley and the media, I have an announcement to make. This is not a fluke. The emperor has no clothes, but what's more, you asked for it to be so.

The Facebook I made, much like many Facebooks before it, was merely a tool. The Facebook we read about today is a creation of the media, and it is a monstrous one at that. Some reporters must have been so enraptured by Mark's Facebook when they first learned of it that they adopted two faces for themselves. Before Michael Arrington of TechCrunch became Chief Crusader against Facebook's evils, there was once a reporter at TechCrunch named Michael Arrington who fawned over every word that he received from Facebook's public relations department. They must not be related. (Now Mr. Arrington expects to be taken seriously as he invests money in the same companies he writes about—because, he argues, "everybody's doing it." How far we have fallen!) At Business Insider, Nicholas Carlson, too, has always had a habit of publishing damning leaked documents from Mark's hard drive on Monday that are about The Best Company Ever! on Tuesday.

Then there are the social media experts, the David Kirkpatricks of the world, whose understanding of this new technological paradigm is in fact so deep that standard journalistic practices like fact-checking and actual interviews are obsolete and totally unnecessary.

Who can forget the reporters who know when to say "no" to a source who has hard evidence? Brad Stone, formerly of the New York Times, didn't think it was news when Facebook, Inc. settled with my company, for example, but he sure has written great profiles on Facebook's management since then. Or Shachar Bar-On, producer at CBS 60 Minutes, who made sure not to include any controversial information he heard in either of Lesley Stahl's glowing segments about Facebook, no matter how substantiated that information was.

There are even the odd reporters who value the medium more than the message. If Kara Swisher at AllThingsD didn't spend so much time videotaping her subjects, she might actually make a decent investigative journalist. Instead, she's on the same bandwagon as everyone else.

Last but certainly not least, let's not exclude Ben Mezrich, a Harvard man whose books contain so many errors about Harvard, MIT, Facebook and everything in between that he falls into a category unto himself. After I refused to agree to his reality waiver, Ben reportedly bribed Eduardo Saverin to help out instead by flying him and his friends to Las Vegas—the scene of Ben's last grossly distorted blockbuster saga.

I don't care how many Facebook profiles there are or how much money the company is or is not making. Mark Zuckerberg is not capable of properly handling the responsibility of running a company, and especially a publicly-traded one. And if it's not clear already, all of the journalists, producers, and authors named above (and many, many more who are not named) have missed, or intentionally ignored, that glaringly obvious fact for the past eight years.

Many will disagree. They'll say that Mark has demonstrated his leadership ability on countless occasions with Facebook's global reach as evidence. I'm not swayed; Bernie Madoff had a global reach once, too.

To varying extents, these are people who do not feel shame, so it's pointless to try to embarrass them. Simply put, the media has been failing us. It's time that we expected more from them and those that they cover.

Aaron Greenspan is the CEO of Think Computer Corporation and author of Authoritas: One Student's Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era. He is the creator of the FaceCash mobile payment system, ThinkLink business management system, and PlainSite legal transparency project.

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T
October 2, 2012 at 4:58 AM DT

Get a real job. That is all.

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