BREAKING NEWS Officer-involved shooting at Verona Convenience Store Full Story

Mark Zuckerberg's growing up moment

The offices of the old Facebook were sprinkled with signs that read, "Move fast and break things." That was long befo...

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 10:30 AM
Updated: Apr 10, 2018 10:30 AM

The offices of the old Facebook were sprinkled with signs that read, "Move fast and break things." That was long before the spread of fake news on the platform, before revelations that Russians manipulated it to sow discord in America, before evidence that it may have contributed to genocide in Myanmar, and before a data scandal that left users wondering if they could trust the platform.

The signs are long gone. They're reminiscent of a tech era now behind us.

I could feel the shift during my last visit to Facebook. I've been inside Facebook's offices many times, but going there to interview CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the immediate wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with the company in crisis, felt different. The campus, in Menlo Park, has doubled in size since my visits years ago. It's still decorated with bright graffiti and signage, but the feel of the place was somber. There's a lot of work to do.

It's a feeling pervasive in tech right now: An era of innovation at a turning point, with the innovators facing the implications of what they created.

As he prepares to testify before Congress, Zuckerberg has to deal with that new reality. He's not just a tech CEO, but a world leader, overseeing a nation of two billion people that he created. He has to reckon with the serious impact the company has on democracy and the manipulation of user data and trust for political purposes, not to mention a business model under fire.

Related: Was your Facebook data shared with Cambridge Analytica? You can now find out

And until now, Zuckerberg has been protected by his own filter bubble of sorts. He's a staple behind the scenes at Facebook and a respected leader in closed door meetings there, but his public appearances are rare, often done in a studio set up inside Facebook where he can address his users in a comfortable environment and with help from a script. He may be 33, a billionaire many times over and unquantifiably powerful, but he is still relatively young and cloistered -- he has, after all, only ever had one job, and he started in it when he was 19.

Zuckerberg doesn't like doing TV interviews. He told me that weeks ago as we sat down in the ice-cold conference room code named "the Aquarium" where he holds meetings. Known for sweating at inopportune times, he wanted to talk in a place where he was comfortable.

"There's an element of accountability where I should be out there doing more interviews as uncomfortable as it is for me to do a TV interview," he admitted to me. "For what we're doing I should be out there and being asked hard questions by journalists," he said, acknowledging that his leadership must extend behind the closed doors of Facebook's Menlo Park campus.

Now he'll have another chance to be asked hard questions -- not by journalists, but by lawmakers who will likely challenge the company's underlying business model, its inability to protect user data, and the weaponization of the platform for political gain. Like the CEOs of banks, automakers and tobacco companies before him -- as the CEO of a major, world-changing company -- Zuckerberg will answer to Congress. And temperature control will be out of his hands.

This is his moment, one that could have a significant impact on him and his company, and it will not come easily to him.

A source inside Facebook says Zuckerberg's game plan is to convince lawmakers that the company is taking data privacy issues seriously and that it will be more transparent from now on. That game plan is partly why the company has in the last few weeks released an onslaught of updates regarding third party access to the platform, transparency around user data, and changes to make political advertising on Facebook more transparent.

When pressed on how the CEO, who despite growing one of the world's most influential company hasn't been outwards facing, will deal with the public format, the source said: "There's a certain degree of theater, but I think we're really focused on substance," adding "this is a leadership moment."

But as Zuckerberg steps outside his comfort zone, at least some of the focus will be on the style with which he talks about that substance.

Related: What Mark Zuckerberg will tell Congress

I remember the last time I saw Zuckerberg in public at a similarly defining moment. It was 2012, just after Facebook's IPO had made him the CEO of a public company, and he was about to take the stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.

Some people forget now that when Facebook first went public, the stock plummeted. Investors were angry, and there was real skepticism about the company and its value. Sitting in the front row, I caught a glimpse of Zuckerberg moments before he stepped on stage. He was breathing deeply, lifting his shoulders like he was pumping himself up for a ball game. In that moment, he wasn't Mark Zuckerberg, 28-year old billionaire of the hottest social network out there and subject of a major Hollywood movie. He seemed, instead, like a nervous guy trying to will himself into this new role.

"I started this when I was so young and inexperienced," Zuckerberg told me during our interview. "I made technical errors and business errors. I hired the wrong people. I trusted the wrong people. I've probably launched more products that have failed than most people will in their lifetime."

Zuckerberg told me he was optimistic. He'll tell Congress the company was too idealistic. Idealism and optimism are good ingredients for a pitch deck, but when your platform has power to shape the world, they are not enough.

As users question whether Facebook will protect democracy, or harm it, whether it will connect the world, or drive us further apart, they'll be looking at the CEO. He has long been standing in the shadows behind the algorithms, but they'll be watching to see whether he will grow into his current, more public role, whether he demonstrates that he really understands the gravity of the consequences his platform has had. And they'll be looking to see whether he'll accept the fact that he is now a world leader who, to best rule the domain he created, must display a better understanding of humanity -- an ingredient too often lost behind the walls in Silicon Valley and on the engineers coding our future.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
Covington219973
Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
Chickasaw189044
Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 53°
Columbus
Cloudy
58° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 58°
Oxford
Mostly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 50°
Starkville
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 54°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather