Mark Zuckerberg – A Cheater? A Stealer? I’m Calling Calacanis’ Bluff

Mark ZuckerbergI give – I call.  I’m getting really tired over all the “I’m deleting my Facebook because they have gone corrupt” posts all over the place.  Some of the smartest minds in the industry (and those I respect most) are all doing it, even Leo Laporte, and it’s breaking my heart.  I don’t understand how any of these people can talk about Facebook with any grain of salt after this without some level of bias.  How can you talk legibly about Facebook from here on out if you’re not using the service?  How can you know how to compete properly if you’re not using your competitors’ products (ahem, Matt Cutts)?  How can you know whom to invest in unless you’re truly trying out all the biggest players in the game?  It doesn’t make sense to me.

Jason Calacanis wrote a scathing letter to his e-mail list today just ripping apart Mark Zuckerberg, coining a term I’m not sure I want to repeat here since it’s almost a curse word (okay, he coined the term, “Zucked”).  He called Zuckerberg a liar, a cheater, a backstabber, and even inferred he had Asperger’s-like tendencies (which anyone who has or knows someone with Asperger’s should be offended).  According to Calacanis:

“Zuckerberg represents the best and worst aspects of entrepreneurship.
His drive, skill and fearlessness are only matched by his long
record–recorded in lawsuit after lawsuit–of backstabbing, stealing
and cheating.”

I’ve heard elsewhere Zuckerberg compared to a Nazi, and other Facebook employees all “drinking the Kool-Aid” they were being served there.  I’ve been called names myself for supporting them.  I really feel bad for those at Facebook right now – quite honestly, as a company, despite their audience, they’re not that big!  Bullying them certainly isn’t going to help.

Let’s address the Zynga issue that Calacanis seems to be basing much of his letter on (the reason Calacanis calls Zuckerberg a liar and stealer).  As a Facebook developer myself, and having addressed, consulted and discussed with many very successful Facebook developers as both a consultant and author of Facebook development books (see the upper-right, and a Dummies book on the way), I’ve seen the pain of many, much more than just Zynga, that have been affected by what Calacanis is talking about.  Zynga is the last of the successful Facebook.com developers that managed to make millions by building applications on top of Facebook.com itself.  I know one  developer that went from 0 to 2 million users in just a couple weeks in the early days of Facebook.com – it was a mad GoldRush!

The problem, however is that none of these developers adapted.  Facebook gave them all the tools they needed to adapt and move outside the platform, and I’ve seen very few actually take Facebook up on that offer.  Facebook gave the hints that they were pushing in that direction and no one followed.  Zynga is just now realizing that as they build their own website – it’s the smart thing to do, and Facebook hasn’t abandoned them in the process.  Facebook, in fact, has pushed Zynga in that direction, offering tools, plugins, protocols, and many other ways of building outside the Facebook platform, while still enabling them to maintain their existing user base on Zynga.com itself.  Zynga’s finally doing the smart thing here, and Facebook wants that to happen!

The crazy thing here is Zynga probably has one of the closest relationships with Facebook of any Facebook developer I know.  Sure, Facebook is trying to make money off of what Zynga does in their own environment, but can you blame them?  It’s Facebook’s own environment.  They have every right to control their own IP, and every developer on the platform should know that by now – I’ve written about it many times.  Every company needs a core. I’m a little jealous of the relationship Zynga has built with Facebook though – there is no reason to feel bad for them.  And they’re now working on their own core as Facebook helps them through that process.  I don’t see anyone lying, cheating, or stealing from anyone here.  Is Facebook supposed to be giving their IP away?  I don’t get it.

Now let’s talk privacy.  Were you aware that Facebook actually gives users a chance to debate privacy policy changes when they go into place?  For every change to Facebook’s terms that goes into place, users have the opportunity to complain, react, and share their feelings in whatever manner they feel necessary about new changes put into place.  The November policy changes (which were probably the biggest recent change) were proposed here (if you really have problems with the Privacy changes you really should subscribe to the updates, that is, unless you’re no longer a Facebook user):

“Facebook has proposed an updated privacy policy. We encourage you to view the proposal and offer your comments here <http://www.facebook.com/fbsitegovernance?v=app_4949752878> by 12:00 PM PDT on November 5, 2009. For future policy updates, become a fan of the Facebook Site Governance Page.”

When this was proposed, users were overwhelmingly for the changes.  Comments were overwhelmingly in a positive tone, resulting in the changes being adopted.  Had users complained back then, the changes would not have gone into place.  This is actually the same process that got Beacon reversed.  New changes were again proposed on March 26, shortly before F8, when the OpenGraph initiative was announced.  Users again overwhelmingly supported the changes, and on April 22, the new changes were accepted.  It was on April 23 that Matt Cutts, and others deleted their Facebook accounts – I’m very curious if they even tried to make their concerns known on the Site Governance site.  It should also be noted that Facebook issued press releases for each of these proposed updates – Mashable covered it.  ReadWriteWeb covered it.  So did TechCrunch, in vivid detail.

So I don’t get it – Facebook is opening up more than they have ever before (despite these same people calling them a Walled Garden before).  They’re the only site out there with a policy in place that actually lets users vote on privacy and policy changes.  They’re the only site out there with the ability to provide any level of granularity towards privacy (did you know you can specify specific groups, exclude specific individuals and groups, and get very specific with exactly who sees your status updates on Facebook?  That’s only the beginning.).  Facebook seems to be making all the right moves, yet they’re Nazis.  They’re liars.  They’re cheaters.  They’re stealers.  All this doesn’t compute!  I don’t see Google doing any of this.  And talk about taking developers out of business – Google’s the biggest culprit of all!

I’m sorry Jason, but calling names isn’t how you win Poker either.  It’s time we start encouraging Facebook’s moves, hoping they continue this momentum to become more open.  It’s time we start educating users that they get to vote on this stuff before it goes live (which they did!).  It’s time we start helping to get the word out to users on what is private and what is not in their Facebook accounts now that the changes have gone into place.

I’m sorry, but I’m getting sick of all the bloggers and so-called “experts” complaining about this when they didn’t do anything to stop it in the first place.  This, especially, when we’re given so many options!  Right now they’re all starting to sound like a bunch of complainers to me.  Am I really the only one that sees this?  I feel like I’m the only one writing about it.  Maybe it’s time I fold, or is everyone else just bluffing?

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47 thoughts on “Mark Zuckerberg – A Cheater? A Stealer? I’m Calling Calacanis’ Bluff

  1. What?!

    “…users have the opportunity to complain, react, and share their feelings in whatever manner they feel necessary about new changes put into place…”

    Yeah, we can bitch and moan — but the point is, Facebook still Zucks us in the **s after they've given us our say.

    Like

  2. Pete, hardly anyone posted a negative reaction when users had their say.
    People had their opportunity – it was overwhelmingly positive! Facebook is
    legally bound to respect that! Seriously? Did you comment on the proposed
    changes back in March when they gave you the opportunity to complain? I
    doubt you did.

    Like

  3. No, Jesse, you're not the only one. I thought I posted a response on Jason's blog, but he's got approve mode or something turned on, so I'll have to write my own post on my own blog. But

    1. I initiated a Facebook account delete this afternoon. And I think it's *beyond* scummy that Facebook waits *14* days before making the delete final. I said I was sure – delete the account and get it over with!

    2. I described why I was going to delete the account on my own blog and the link is all over the blogosphere now. I'm not getting anywhere near the traffic that Matt McKeon's visualization is, but that's OK. Just on the off chance you want to read it, here's the link. http://meb.tw/96R9pQ

    3. I am also deleting my GMail account that I've had for many years. It turns out that I *must* have a Google account to get updates for my recently-acquired Verizon Droid Incredible. So I created a new account for only that purpose – all other Google services are getting deleted. Do you want to know *why* I'm deleting GMail? Because it reads the text of my emails. It reads emails from my broker and displays ads from other brokers and from financial newsletters. That's *way* the Hell beyond “not OK!”

    Like

  4. I am a facebook fan, but i dont want facebook mess up with my profile, and other privacy info. Lots of news coming out with a negative wave on facebook which prompt me to think that are our privacy really be protected, now i doubt. Facebook wanted to dominate in the web, stepping ahead of google in a 'like' fashion and they may succeed. They may built another search and ad platform on that. In what google had done in 10 years, its fairly easy for FB to do this in not more than 2 years. But the world is getting too small and no one can guarantee the privacy. Its fairly easy to find a person what he is doing and what he was in this over crowded social world. !

    Like

  5. I really don't think you can use Facebook's Governance site to defend their privacy moves. The vast majority of users do not vote. They probably don't even know that site exists! The people who stand to be hurt most by these changes (because they don't understand them) are the very people who don't know about Facebook Governance.

    To your point about people “overwhelmingly supporting” these changes, I'm not convinced. Check out this blog post (http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=37938803…) where FB responds to user feedback by essentially saying it's going to do what it wants and users shouldn't worry about it because Facebook is only testing its controversial features with select partners.

    Like

  6. The negative news is always louder than the positive. You can remain
    comforted that you at least still have privacy controls on Facebook.
    They're the only site that does.

    Like

  7. I take the other tack. If you don't actually delete your account, why should anyone take anything you say seriously? People are moved by action, not just words.

    With all the names being thrown about Zuckerberg, shrewd comes to mind… and that can be good or bad, depending on the circumstances. @znmeb is correct about the 14 day deal. Logging back in cancels the Delete request.

    So guess what happened?

    After I clicked Submit on the Delete screen, I turned my attention to Twitter for a quick update. When I came back to the Delete page less than 30 seconds later (I wrote the tweet ahead of time), guess what popped up?

    A LOGIN SCREEN!

    Like

  8. I take the other tack. If you don't actually delete your account, why should anyone take anything you say seriously? People are moved by action, not just words.

    With all the names being thrown about Zuckerberg, shrewd comes to mind… and that can be good or bad, depending on the circumstances. @znmeb is correct about the 14 day deal. Logging back in cancels the Delete request.

    So guess what happened?

    After I clicked Submit on the Delete screen, I turned my attention to Twitter for a quick update. When I came back to the Delete page less than 30 seconds later (I wrote the tweet ahead of time), guess what popped up?

    A LOGIN SCREEN!

    Like

  9. I understand your point Mac, although it only makes sense if you delete it
    with intention of coming back and telling your story. With everything these
    critics have said, they have no intention of coming back. It all seems out
    of spite, which, IMO is the wrong attitude. That's where I think the
    mistake lies. Sure, taking a break is a good thing, but all out deleting
    the account with no plan to come back, and then bragging about it for the
    world to see makes no sense if you're in any level of position to advise
    others on this stuff.

    Like

  10. Beacon? Site governance? Facebook dismantling Beacon (if it is, in fact, dismantled) was part of its settlement in the class action lawsuit, not because of site governance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook_Beacon#La

    Until then, Facebook never gave users a true opt-out. It placated users with an opt-out of *notifications* only.

    IMHO, Instant Personalization… um… data sharing… is Son of Beacon.

    Like

  11. Who should be targeted… Twitter? which has always been an open platform by default? Most other services are open by default, thus privacy is a conscious decision.

    Facebook, OTOH, began as a closed, protected space. “What happens on the Facebook stays on the Facebook” may have been naive back in the day, but it is the foundation upon which the house of Facebook was built.

    It's the change from closed, which encouraged oversharing, to open by default… putting those previously private content and personal info at risk.

    There's one “feature” of Facebook that seems to be unique… The deceptive account deactivation instead of straightforward delete account function. And even the delete request leaves something to be desired. See my prior comment about that.

    Like

  12. Ignorance, in my opinion, is not an excuse. The people who you claim will be “hurt” are probably the type of people that don't have any of their privacy settings set anyways because they don't really care. So some 3rd party knows they like Aerosmith and The Notebook. I don't know what kind of private information some of these people keep on their profiles that could be harmful in the hands of a 3rd party website. Welcome to 2010…if you want to have any kind of presence on the internet, you are sacrificing a small portion of your privacy.

    Like

  13. Jason, Facebook is legally required to change the policies when enough users
    are against it. It's part of their TOS, their contract between users. If
    Facebook isn't listening then users need to be suing the heck out of
    Facebook.

    Regarding the vast majority of users, you're probably right, but TechCrunch
    reported on it, as did Mashable, and ReadWriteWeb, and a whole host of other
    major tech blogs. Those public individuals complaining about it now read
    those blogs and weren't getting involved back then. What pains me is Leo's
    a reporter – he should have known about it and should have been encouraging
    his listeners to respond back then, not now when it's too late.

    Like

  14. The whole Governance thing is complete crap. THEY are the ones implementing these changes, and if the changes are wrong, then THEY are the ones to blame. Asking people to vote on it doesn't shift their responsibility one bit.

    I don't care about privacy policies. I don't care about voting on privacy issues. Quite frankly, the only thing I care about is MY privacy. And when they violate that, then I'm going to call them out on it. Telling me “well, you should have spoke up before they did it” doesn't help, because they still did the wrong thing, regardless of whether or not I had a chance to tell them they were wrong before the fact.

    I shouldn't have to tell them that they're being evil, they should know it in the first place. If they don't know the difference between right and wrong, then how can I ever trust them?

    Like

  15. Jesse, yes we are complaining but it has more to do with Facebook's approach than openness itself. People hate surprises, especially when it affects their personal information without warning. I know I would be bunched into that “so-called experts” category (which is fine) but everyone has the right to do what they can to get their point/concerns off their chests. I can't influence Facebook alone but I can at least do my part in raising my concern and awareness.

    The data Facebook exposed seems harmless to many but to others its very concerning. We're voicing our concerns of privacy because someday more surprises of data exposure will occur, further erosion of privacy is the issue. In the US, we have the 4th amendment that gives citizens protection of what the Government in regards to unreasonable searches and seizures. We have no clear rules of what companies can and cannot do. In the Web 2.0 age, we do not have clear protection of search (what is exposed) and seizures (information of and about you that you can't remove). To this 'so-called expert', Facebook crossed unnecessary boundaries. They could have easily accomplished the same goals with smoother communication and roll-out plan.

    Like

  16. Ye, ye, they've set it up so that can essentially never happen. All part of the intricate propaganda..I mean PR machine. “Their contract between [/ with] users”?!?…that is so very rich considering how everything has gone down.

    Like

  17. I get the feeling from reading your post that you're taking the titans to task here… and if I am reading that as such, okay, fair game. I've reached a conclusion that is not in any way representative of the recent meme you and others have highlighted. I don't think we've ever met to chat in person but I can assure you that I did not enter into this “delete” lightly. I'm very clear in my own “deleting my facebook” reasons on my “blog”. 🙂

    All I can suggest to you is that I've watched Facebook for some time and nothing has endeared them to me as “a place for friends” since starting to organize a class reunion — online. It's the same feeling of recommending any product or service to a close friend and finding they ended up with a lemon. Seriously man. I have regrets about recommending Facebook to friends.

    Facebook has altered, iterated, and improved (pick a euphemism — I have mine) to a point where I cannot be a party to it any longer.

    Like

  18. Jesse,

    I feel sad that slowly we are all turning into an entitled-class of humans. We want our share of stuff for free. We want others to investing the support structures of business and then we expect to never face any restrictions, cut-backs or reductions in our service.

    What we are seeing in Greece is this entitlement run a muck. Are we now seeing a blogging riot as well?

    I think that the root of the problem is that the “stars” of the internet began with a giveaway-style business model. Then we all felt entitled to free services. Now that the business models are developing, people are beginning to complain that their world of entitlement is changing.

    We all started with the freedom to open a Facebook account and we can freely delete it, if it doesn't meet our needs. Then with our freedom and our own resources we can make something that better meets our needs and then we can sell it to others. But we should start with a business model that doesn't lull everyone into a feeling of entitlement. We have enough riots!

    Like

  19. Very well put! Perhaps people are feeling entitled to have this privacy on
    a service that wasn't theirs in the first place. There is certainly a
    difference between freedom and entitlement. I think we get the two
    confused, some times.

    Like

  20. I was certainly awake in my Law classes and I don't remember Privacy being anywhere in the Constitution, especially in the way Facebook is using it. Where in the Constitution are you referring to Mac?

    Like

  21. The right to privacy is implied by the 4th and 9th Amendments of the Bill of Rights. You can argue that point with someone else. I'm not discussing it with you any further.

    Like

  22. “implied” being the key word. There have been many court cases questioning
    this, and the fact is it's just not specifically in the Constitution and
    it's just way too fuzzy to say it's a “constitutional issue”. I'm assuming
    by you not wanting to discuss this you are not knowledgeable in this area of
    expertise? I wonder why you're trying to argue it then.

    And anything even implied certainly didn't have anything to do with a
    private company. I don't see any government trying to monitor anything you
    do here. This is an entirely different issue, and no one is entitled to
    privacy on a network they can simply opt out of.

    Like

  23. No, that's not the point. It's not restrictions or cut-backs or reductions that's a problem here… It is taking my information and using it without my *opt-in permission* to either sell me stuff or sell access to my stuff to others. In short, my service isn't being reduced, but MY CONTROL over my identity is.

    If I share my stuff on your platform freely, then you turn around and repackage what I do (and opting me in along the way with confusing-enough rhetoric that I don't realize what's happening) and sell it, monetize it, publish it, re-post it and re-use it, that is not the same as restricting, cutting-back or reducing my service.

    The reason people are flaming facebook about this is because we want to like them. We want them to listen. They can do what they do, but they need to stop being evil about the way they do it… opting you in to things that benefit them but reduce my control, and forcing me to go find out how to opt-in to anything they do that might help me regain control.

    Beyond that, there's an overall realization I think just beginning to dawn on people that Facebook really just cares about themselves, not us, their own users. They're treating us all to the glossy-PR-speak effect, just waiting for the uproar to die-down and hoping that all of us “unwashed masses” will stop caring and go on with our Farmville games and “like”-ing and let facebook quietly and discreetly mine all the data out of our profiles (and sell it) and our web-browsing habits (and sell them, too) and get us so connected into facebook that we can't remember a world before the all-powerful facebook fed us dinner and washed our faces and changed our sheets when we made “messies” in them.

    Like

  24. Rob, I'm not saying it wasn't done the wrong way, but I don't think any of
    this makes Mark Zuckerberg all the terms Calacanis called him, nor do I
    think Calacanis' portrayal of the situation was fair. Let's face it,
    regardless of whether opt-out is the right way or not, you can still go back
    in and change your preferences. They didn't remove your options entirely,
    and they notified everyone when they did make the change (I have a few
    e-mails in my inbox from them, in fact). They at least tried to do it
    fairly, even if it ended up not being the popular way to do it (although I
    still think those offended are in the minority).

    Now everyone knows and we can get on with it. If you have a concern, just
    go ahead and set everything public, know that what you put online will be
    seen by everyone, and use the privacy controls as the exception. Then, when
    Facebook changes privacy controls again (if it happens), there will be no
    surprises. Or, just don't use Facebook at all. The fact is we have
    options, and we know there's potential for it to happen again (this isn't
    the first time – I've been warning this for years). No sense getting caught
    off-guard next time – we've been warned.

    Like

  25. as a ceo Zuckerberg in my opioin has show poor leadership. Had FB been a publicly traded internet site on the nasdaq and the news like this broke his stock would sink so fast everyone Pala Alto would be finding a way to push him out. Now in the Google searchs more and more relevent stories are hitting fast; his hacking as of early this morning Google search reveals that his past hacking into the harvard crimson he could face felony charges under electronic privacy laws. It appears his problems are cropping up more and more. Already a facebook backlash is growing. A quit facebook day is set for memorial day. I believe his real world problems are just beginning.

    Like

  26. Chuck, I think the negativity is being overblown by the press. Those that
    quit will be but a very, very small percentage of the Facebook user base. I
    think you'll also very likely see those that have publicly quit their
    accounts coming back, as what Facebook is doing is very hard to avoid. It's
    not going away like some would like (and have been pushing for years to
    happen).

    Like

  27. Personally I don't think Mark stole the idea of Facebook what so ever. The Winklevoss twins had an idea that would only allow Harvard users to create an account, and basically it was an idea that would act as a dating/hooking up website. Mark used that small idea which was already an idea due to hundreds of other dating websites, and expanded using HIS own ideas. May i add that HE was the one who thought of the name, came up with the applications etc. The Winklevoss twins had no right suing Mark. Although when it comes to Eduardo Saverin Mark did backstab him, but that is no ones business but Mark and Eduardo's. Mark was and still is a young genius who changed the worlds social life on his own idea anyone who thinks differently try me.

    Like

  28. Personally I don't think Mark stole the idea of Facebook what so ever. The Winklevoss twins had an idea that would only allow Harvard users to create an account, and basically it was an idea that would act as a dating/hooking up website. Mark used that small idea which was already an idea due to hundreds of other dating websites, and expanded using HIS own ideas. May i add that HE was the one who thought of the name, came up with the applications etc. The Winklevoss twins had no right suing Mark. Although when it comes to Eduardo Saverin Mark did backstab him, but that is no ones business but Mark and Eduardo's. Mark was and still is a young genius who changed the worlds social life on his own idea anyone who thinks differently try me.

    Like

  29. Ignorance, in my opinion, is not an excuse. The people who you claim will be “hurt” are probably the type of people that don't have any of their privacy settings set anyways because they don't really care. So some 3rd party knows they like Aerosmith and The Notebook. I don't know what kind of private information some of these people keep on their profiles that could be harmful in the hands of a 3rd party website. Welcome to 2010…if you want to have any kind of presence on the internet, you are sacrificing a small portion of your privacy.

    Like

  30. No, that's not the point. It's not restrictions or cut-backs or reductions that's a problem here… It is taking my information and using it without my *opt-in permission* to either sell me stuff or sell access to my stuff to others. In short, my service isn't being reduced, but MY CONTROL over my identity is.

    If I share my stuff on your platform freely, then you turn around and repackage what I do (and opting me in along the way with confusing-enough rhetoric that I don't realize what's happening) and sell it, monetize it, publish it, re-post it and re-use it, that is not the same as restricting, cutting-back or reducing my service.

    The reason people are flaming facebook about this is because we want to like them. We want them to listen. They can do what they do, but they need to stop being evil about the way they do it… opting you in to things that benefit them but reduce my control, and forcing me to go find out how to opt-in to anything they do that might help me regain control.

    Beyond that, there's an overall realization I think just beginning to dawn on people that Facebook really just cares about themselves, not us, their own users. They're treating us all to the glossy-PR-speak effect, just waiting for the uproar to die-down and hoping that all of us “unwashed masses” will stop caring and go on with our Farmville games and “like”-ing and let facebook quietly and discreetly mine all the data out of our profiles (and sell it) and our web-browsing habits (and sell them, too) and get us so connected into facebook that we can't remember a world before the all-powerful facebook fed us dinner and washed our faces and changed our sheets when we made “messies” in them.

    Like

  31. I take the other tack. If you don't actually delete your account, why should anyone take anything you say seriously? People are moved by action, not just words.

    With all the names being thrown about Zuckerberg, shrewd comes to mind… and that can be good or bad, depending on the circumstances. @znmeb is correct about the 14 day deal. Logging back in cancels the Delete request.

    So guess what happened?

    After I clicked Submit on the Delete screen, I turned my attention to Twitter for a quick update. When I came back to the Delete page less than 30 seconds later (I wrote the tweet ahead of time), guess what popped up?

    A LOGIN SCREEN!

    Like

  32. I was certainly awake in my Law classes and I don't remember Privacy being anywhere in the Constitution, especially in the way Facebook is using it. Where in the Constitution are you referring to Mac?

    Like

  33. I am a facebook fan, but i dont want facebook mess up with my profile, and other privacy info. Lots of news coming out with a negative wave on facebook which prompt me to think that are our privacy really be protected, now i doubt. Facebook wanted to dominate in the web, stepping ahead of google in a 'like' fashion and they may succeed. They may built another search and ad platform on that. In what google had done in 10 years, its fairly easy for FB to do this in not more than 2 years. But the world is getting too small and no one can guarantee the privacy. Its fairly easy to find a person what he is doing and what he was in this over crowded social world. !

    Like

  34. Pete, hardly anyone posted a negative reaction when users had their say.
    People had their opportunity – it was overwhelmingly positive! Facebook is
    legally bound to respect that! Seriously? Did you comment on the proposed
    changes back in March when they gave you the opportunity to complain? I
    doubt you did.

    Like

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