Today is Facebook's 15th Birthday. To celebrate, Mark Zuckerberg's social media team has published a long post commemoration of the event. I thought I'd clarify it a little by translating some of the more difficult passages into English:
Fifteen years ago today, I launched the first version of the Facebook website from my college dorm. At the time, it struck me that there were many websites to find almost anything -- books, music, news, information, businesses -- except for what actually matters most: people.
Especially hot people you can rate. Also, I have conveniently forgotten Livejournal, on which I used to post, and which allowed you to find people. And MySpace. Oh, and Friendster. Hell, there was even some Brit thing called Friends Reunited, but who cares about that?
So I built a simple website organized around people, where we could connect with the people we wanted and share what was important to us.
And what's important to us? Your data. Which we can monetize. Dumb fucks.
This desire to express ourselves, learn about each other, and connect in new ways was greater than I'd imagined.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Did you know I'm now so rich that I bought all the houses around my own, just for privacy?
Oh, hang on. Privacy is bad, isn't it? Sharing is good. Shit, forget I said that.
Within a couple of weeks, two-thirds of Harvard students were using Facebook almost every day.
Although, not the Winklevoss twins. Dumb fucks.
In the next couple of months, students from other places emailed me and my roommates to launch at their schools, and we opened at almost 30 schools.
Bag the rich ones first.
Within a year, more than one million students were connecting on the site. In a couple of years, we were working on making the service available to everyone.
Gotta profile them all! I might need to buy some more houses, for extra privacy. And goat lasers don't come cheap, you know.
That first decade of people wiring up their networks was an exhilarating time.
Until Facebook came along and ruined it.
Many outsiders dismissed what was happening as a fad or inconsequential, but for those of us using these services from the early days it was clear something special and important was happening that reflected a new reality of how the world works today.
New reality: you give me all your data, for free. And I make myself incredibly wealthy off the back of it.
Much of people's experience in the past was defined by large hierarchical institutions -- governments, mass media, universities, religious organizations -- that provided stability but were often remote and inaccessible. If you wanted to progress, you worked your way up the ladder slowly. If you wanted to start something new or spread a new idea, it was harder without the blessing of these institutions.
Now every piece of ill-thought fuckwittery gets equal airtime with research painstaking undertaken over decades. Please ignore the consequences of that because sharing is GOOD!
Our current century is defined more by networks of people who have the freedom to interact with whom they want and the ability to easily share ideas and experiences.
Ideas that are untrue, wrong and dangerous spread particularly well. Who knew?
I'll never forget how right after we launched News Feed, we saw millions of people organize marches against violence in Colombia. We saw communities come together to do viral fundraisers.
Don't mention Myanmar. Don't mention Myanmar.
If the first part of this century was about wiring up these networks, the next phase will be about people using these networks to redefine every part of our society. This will require finding the right balance between the freedoms and responsibilities of a connected world.
If you think we've fucked up your democracies already, you ain't seen nothing yet.
For the last couple of years, most of the discussion has been about new social and ethical issues that these networks raise -- whether that's governing content to balance free expression and safety, the principles for protecting privacy in a world where people share so much information, how to improve health and well-being when we're always connected, and ensuring the integrity of our elections and democratic process. These are all critical issues, and we have a responsibility to manage these networks more proactively to prevent harm.
Please don't regulate us, you bastards. We haven't finished fucking you up yet.
At the same time, there is another force at play as well. As networks of people replace traditional hierarchies and reshape many institutions in our society -- from government to business to media to communities and more -- there is a tendency of some people to lament this change, to overly emphasize the negative,
Yeah, and some bastard will probably write something pointing out all the evasions and half-truths in this, but don't worry. It'll never get reach in the modern newsfeed. Power is control is truth. Only my version of history will get the blessing of engagement. All hail engagement.
and in some cases to go so far as saying the shift to empowering people in the ways the internet and these networks do is mostly harmful to society and democracy.
Actually, they say Facebook is harmful to society, not the internet. And despite how hard I've tried, Facebook has yet to consume the whole internet, but hey, we're only 15 years in. Give us time.
In the meantime, let's twist this whole argument around, to make it seem like someone else is the bad guy. Ta da!
To the contrary, while any rapid social change creates uncertainty, I believe what we're seeing is people having more power, and a long term trend reshaping society to be more open and accountable over time.
Apart from me, of course. Anybody criticizing me is just too negative and doesn't understand the truth of my glorious vision: one world, under Facebook.
But if the last 15 years were about people building these new networks and starting to see their impact, then the next 15 years will be about people using their power to remake society in ways that have the potential to be profoundly positive for decades to come.
And by "people", I mean "me". I mean, are you really people at all? Or merely manipulable data points in my algorithms?
When I started Facebook,
Just me, alone. All alone. I've never even heard of Eduardo Saverin.
I believed that we all have a deep desire to focus more of what we do around people -- not just content, commerce, companies, apps, or politics. I still believe this today, and I'm grateful to everyone in our community who believes this too and is building this world every single day. Here's to a great 15 years to come.
I've got effective voting control of the company, so I'm not going anywhere.
You're mine, you dumb fucks.