I wonder if an anti-Facebook bandwagon is starting to roll. The Murdoch press has been running a story about a film said to be due for release in October about the social media network’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, that portrays him as sleazy and conniving. It apparently shows him writing the software for the website as an outlet for him and other Harvard students to vent their fury against the university’s women, after being cruelly dumped by his girlfriend.
It then shows him welching on an agreement with other students who funded the site, and having to pay them millions after a court battle. Generally it paints a picture of an individual riven by sexual insecurities, indulging in casual sex in bars.
Elsewhere a story is emerging about Zuckerberg referring to Facebook’s first users as ‘dumbfucks’ for entrusting their personal information to him.
Are Facebook users likely to be bothered? You bet. Fashion is everything in such matters, and Zuckerberg’s growing reputation for disdain for users’ privacy is already creating a backlash. Somewhere it’s claimed that if you key in ‘how do I…’ in Google, then ‘how do I delete my Facebook account?’ comes up first in the list of alternatives. Actually it came up fourth when I tried it, behind ‘how do I know if I’m pregnant?’, but the point is made.
Zuckerberg is apparently horrified and now wants to establish himself as ‘a good guy’. Surely that ship has sailed. Reputations matter when you’re at the top of the internet tree. Bill Gates giving away billions to the poor of the developed world was an effective answer to the battering Microsoft got over its monopolistic business practices, and it’s not for nothing that Google’s motto is ‘do no evil’. What has Zuckerberg got in his moral locker?
This is perhaps an opportunity for good old MySpace and other networking sites that were left behind by Facebook to recover some of their lost ground. Internet shifts happen fast. It seems likely that the Facebook phenomenon has peaked, and it’s just possible that at the end of the year the social networking landscape will look entirely different.