“You’re in charge of your own data. There’s nothing to worry about.”
That, in so many words, was the basic message of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his recent testimony in front of Congress. Zuck faced tough questions as part of the fallout from recent scandals, but one of the original users of his social network just dropped a bombshell about how long those problems have existed.
Julia Carrie Wong was among the first people to join Facebook back in 2004. She was also a classmate of Zuckerberg at Harvard University, where the social network famously began.
“I was one of Facebook’s first users. I shouldn’t have trusted Mark Zuckerberg,” declared Wong in a recent feature published by The Guardian, a widely respected British newspaper.
In the scathing article, Wong accused the now-famous CEO of lying to the early members of the site… and of continuing the same lie today.
“Last week, Zuckerberg was called to answer for himself. Over the course of two days of questioning before Congress, Zuckerberg sought to assure the public that we, not he, are in ‘complete control’ of our relationships with Facebook,” Wong explained.
“He repeated this guarantee dozens of times, returning again and again to the idea that users can control their Facebook data,” she continued.
In the former Harvard student’s view, Zuckerberg’s assurances to Congress were the same as his early promises when Facebook was run from a dorm on campus. Both then and now, she insists, the central promise is tragically untrue.
“But the Zuckerberg of 2018 sounds suspiciously like the ‘Mark E Zuckerberg ’06’ who was interviewed by the Harvard Crimson on 9 February 2004 about his brand new website,” she wrote.
“It was this article that prompted my roommates and me to start entrusting a stranger behind a computer screen with the keys to our identities: names, birthdates, photographs, email addresses, and more,” Wong continued.
During the 2004 interview with the student newspaper — a quaint time when Facebook boasted about “hundreds” of users — a fresh-faced Mark Zuckerberg assured his classmates that privacy was in their hands.
“There are pretty intensive privacy options,” he told the paper. “People have very good control over who can see their information.”
The woman who had a front-row seat to the explosive growth of Facebook isn’t buying it.
“Zuckerberg was lying then and he’s lying now,” she declared. “We do not have ‘complete control’ and we never have, as evidenced by the fact that even people who never signed up for Facebook have ‘shadow profiles’ created without their consent.”
“He has been getting away with this same spin for 14 years, two months, and eight days,” the former classmate of Zuckerberg continued.
As evidence of that “spin,” Wong recalled instant messages that were sent between Mark Zuckerberg and one of her Harvard friends during the early days of Facebook.
“During those first few weeks of Facebook’s existence, while he was assuring his fellow college students that we could trust him with our identities, he had a private conversation on instant messenger with a friend,” wrote Wong. “That conversation was subsequently leaked, and published by Silicon Valley Insider. It is as follows:”
ZUCK: yea so if you ever need info about anyone at harvard
ZUCK: just ask
ZUCK: i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns
FRIEND: what!? how’d you manage that one?
ZUCK: people just submitted it
ZUCK: i don’t know why
ZUCK: they “trust me”
ZUCK: dumb f**ks
Wong then launched into her most scorching criticism of Zuckerberg and Facebook yet.
“In the intervening years, I’ve learned that Zuckerberg values his own privacy so much that he has security guards watching his trash, that he bought four houses surrounding his own house to avoid having neighbors, that he sued hundreds of Hawaiians to sever their claim to tiny plots of land within his massive Kauai estate, and that he secretly built tools to prevent further private messages from coming back to haunt him,” she ranted.
“What I haven’t learned, or seen any sign of, is that he has changed his opinion of the intelligence of his users,” Wong concluded. “It’s Zuckerberg’s world, and we’re all just a bunch of dumb f***s living in it.”
Social networks certainly have value, but they can also become colossal nightmares. Whether the pros outweigh the cons for Americans and conservatives on Facebook remains to be seen.
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