I have no love for Mark Zuckerberg, quite the opposite.
He’s the Dr Evil of the internet, dressed up as some nerdy college kid done good.
‘Zuck’ has never come up with an original idea in his life – he has stolen or bought every idea, from the first iteration of Facebook when he was at Harvard College, promising the Winklevoss Twins (fellow students Tyler and Cameron) he would finish coding their incomplete ‘student social connection’ website called ‘Harvard Connect’.
A deal was struck, and Zuckerberg was given the passwords to the site code.
Instead of sticking with his agreement, Zuckerberg poked around under the hood of the site, pinched all the ideas, then started coding his own version of ‘Harvard Connect’ over the following 3 months.
All the while, during the development process, the Winklevoss Twins would ask Zuckerberg how the site was coming along.
In email after email, Zuckerberg assured the Twins he was working on their site (when in fact he was working on his own copycat site).
In February 2004, the deceptive Zuckerberg launched ‘The Facebook.com’ (Facebook.com domain name was taken – which he paid $US 200,000 for a while later after TheFacebook.com took off), without so much of a nod to the originators of the concept – The Winklevoss twins.
Even the name ‘Facebook’ was not Zuckerberg’s idea.
The Facebook was the print version of the Harvard College directory of students – a physical book with all students’ faces, listing their courses, interests, classes, dorms etc., so students could contact like-minds and connect.
Students had been asking the college for an online website to connect – which was what the Winklevoss twins were ready to launch – until Zuckerberg stole the idea.
There’s an interesting anomaly of copyright law that states the ‘coder’ or the developer is the copyright owner of the website. So, in this case, Zuckerberg was able to claim ownership, even though the idea and name for Facebook were not his.
I have issues with this copyright anomaly, as the coder is not the owner of the idea, but the builder of the site.
Similarly, a brickie who builds a house is not the owner of the house design, but the architect is (under copyright law), that is, the person who comes up with the concept or the idea.
Zuckerberg would have to be the luckiest person on the planet – a thief and liar who stole someone else’s idea, but is protected.
When Zuckerberg launched The Facebook, the Winklevoss twins took immediate action and sued Zuckerberg, who naturally denied he stole their idea, but the twins were able to produce emails proving Zuckerberg wrong, so Zuckerberg settled, giving the twins $USD 65 million in cash – plus share in The Facebook.
Case closed. Zuckerberg was guilty as charged.
Fast forward to today.
Facebook has gone onto being the world’s most used (and abused) social media platform.
What was once a means to connect with each other, sharing pics of our kids, cat videos and what we had for lunch, has morphed into the world’s largest distributor of news links and just about everything else, supported by one of the world’s most innovative advertising technologies (up there with Google Ads).
News publishers recognised Facebook as a free traffic source, so hired social media teams to post to all the free platforms.
The problem for the news publishers, was ad dollars were draining away from their web sites, over to the more sophisticated, targeted Facebook Ads and Google Ads, forcing most news publishers onto their knees, and in many cases to their graves.
So, what strategy did Australian news publishers choose?
Not to create their own version of easy to use, innovative, laser targeted Ad Tech – but to go crying to the Australian Government, to make the Tech Giants pay the news publishers for their content, which in fact was not being published on the Tech Platforms at all.
Funnily, a Liberal Conservative Australian government went along with this idea of corporate socialism.
Facebook’s response was quite logical – stop the news publishers from using Facebook.
No news links. No money paid. No problem.
Since this morning’s decision by Facebook to remove all news links, the unwitting news publishers seem to have been caught flat-footed.
They would have had to be clueless to have not seen this move coming, but apparently, they didn’t.
Banning Australian news from the platform was the most obvious, most logical next step from Facebook, which is essentially a social sharing site.
There is no obligation for Facebook to provide news links, if it chooses to not do so.
Today’s news ban has set off a nuclear reaction from the news publishers – choosing to wage all-out war on Facebook, and Zuckerberg personally.
Having first complained Facebook was publishing their news so breaching their copyright (a lie – it wasn’t), they’re now crying Facebook is not allowing news on its platform. Talk about a bob each way.
It’s a futile war the news publishers cannot win.
Facebook is not obligated to allow news links if it chooses to not do so.
The Australian government will not legislate to allow a company to do what it doesn’t want to do. That would open the Australian government into charges of being no different to the illiberal and sinister Kim Jong-Un or the CCP. It’s just not an area a free and liberal democracy wants to go.
So, where to from here?
Well, the news publishers need to decide whether they want to be on Facebook or not.
If they do, Facebook is a publicly listed company with Mark Zuckerberg the largest shareholder, so they will need to play by Zuckerberg’s rules, like it or not – just as Rupert Murdoch, for decades, made the rules for how he ran his companies, what was published in his publications, the ad rates and policies.
Now the power and leverage has shifted from the traditional news publishers to the Tech Giants, playing the game no differently to when the news publishers made the rules – but who now want the rules changed by the government.
The alternative is to wage war on Facebook, which they’re doing right now as I type – a foolish move which will only infuriate the more powerful Zuckerberg.
What would I do if I was running a news organisation?
I’d start to work on my Ad Tech, to deliver a better user experience with better value than what Facebook or Google are offering. That’s competition.
And if you really want to read the news, go to the news websites. They’re still there. They haven’t gone anywhere.
We survived reading the news before Facebook. We just had to make the effort to find it.
Use the social media platform for what it was always intended to be – a way of connecting with friends and family, and sharing stuff.