Snow & Zuck

There’s a WebCam
Hidden in the Toilet

Edward Snowden and Mark Zuckerberg shared a week in the headlines. The whistleblower who exposed the National Security Agency’s dirty secrets has a memoir out. And the Facebook’s inventor was caught on tape expressing fears of a future of greater scrutiny and accountability.
Apart from that, their notoriety, and the fact they were born within a year of each other, they’ve got little in common. One, whose daring act cost him his freedom, is an example of moral clarity, while the other embodies the very disregard for principles driving the ownership class.
The fate of their parallel lives, however, is an imperfect but still fitting metaphor for these times: follow your conscience and face exile and the hounds of the establishment. Use your privilege to generate wealth and soon you’ll get to rub elbows with the rich and the powerful.
Snowden‘s ‘Permanent Record,’ rather than boasting his ‘good guy’ image, as a slayer of sinister state-surveillance agencies, zeroes in on the fractured and the personal. It’s a humble account of surviving the pushback while still honoring ethical and private choices.
The leaked audio of Zuckerberg‘s raging about presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, throws a glare on his shrewd political calculations. As in the 2016 elections, he’s prepping his social media mammoth to play again the role of king’s maker.

TWO WHO REWROTE OUR TIMES
Six years ago this November, they were the focus of a Colltales’ Curtain Raiser, an excerpt of which is adapted and reposted below. To many, Snowden’s woes have somehow anticipated our current reality, where a U.S. president uses the government to go after his political enemies.
Or that Facebook, which Zuck started in 2004 – a decade before the NSA scandal broke – would go on to become more powerful than many nations. After all, free, non-regulated access to private citizen’s data is now as common as using cellphones to track people down.
As in 2014, they’re still frozen together in amber: Snowden in the White House’s hit list, unlikely to receive a fair trial if he ever comes back from Russia to fight for his rights; and Zuckerberg, who along the top 0.01% of the population, controls 80% of all the planet’s resources.

CHANGE THE WORLD OR MAKE A BUCK
‘The Big Brother age has produced its first titans whose duality mirrors the ambiguity and radical change of the way we live now. Born within a year of each other, Snow and Zuck have perhaps unwittingly, defined the times: a reboot of government accountability, or our downgrade to a totalitarian society.
They made their choices and so will we. Zuck’s created FB with one thought on his mind, besides getting dates: get rich. He achieved that by eliminating early collaborators and potential competitors, and swiftly establishing his wraparound, impenetrable hold of a niche market.
He succeeded beyond his most outlandish visions of power by conceiving and enforcing the tenet of his business model: the complete eradication of any notion of personal privacy, except his, and (more)
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Facing the Music?

As Criticism of Facebook Grows,
Zuckerberg’s Nowhere to Be Seen

It’s ironic that the creator of a social network that ostensibly trades in the private lives of its clients is himself a highly private person. As hostility towards Facebook’s business model is on the rise, Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard dropout boy wonder who founded it and became an overnight billionaire, has been less than visible these days.
For some, it’s all about poetic justice. While Zuckerberg fights accusations of having secretly profited from Facebook’s failed IPO, while thousands lost money with it, a tech site’s offering cash in exchange for unguarded pictures of him. His company’s also fighting European regulators over how it stores personal data, and, in the U.S., scrutiny for luring children under 13 onto its social network.
For the record, Facebook’s definitely not the only one being accused of unauthorized use of its members’ most intimate details. Google, another giant of the Internet age, faces similar charges by the European Union. And pretty much every other site, community board, job exchange and even smartphone apps are, in one way or another, guilty of making a so far illegal buck out of its users.
Facebook, though, for being arguably the most popular, and for depending exclusively of customer-generated content to attract advertisers, seems to be setting the (low) business practice standards for the industry. How successful efforts by regulators, consumer advocates, public officials and even some politicians will be, curbing its privacy-busting ways, remains to be seen.
But anything that may help prevent it from becoming the nightmarish, big-brother-like corporation some say it already is, may also establish a new consumer-driven regulatory framework for all other companies, Continue reading

Saving Face?

To the Millions of You
Who Made This Possible

That’s Facebook’s heartfelt thank you note to its 800-plus million subscribers, included at the end of the documents it filed for its first public offering. To an increased number of people, though, such touching gratitude may not be enough.
That’s because of three main reasons: the amount of money a select group stands to make with the IPO; misgivings about what the site does with the data it collects from its ‘friends’; and growing awareness that such data shouldn’t be for sale.
When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the stock sale last week, it was the culmination of less than 10 years since he envisioned an extended social network that would enroll his Ivy League friends and make them very jealous.
His greatest achievement was to tap into a then incipient demand for self-expression channels, where friends and acquaintances could exchange even the most inane pieces of information, and turn that Continue reading