Zuckerberg and negative tropes

There’s a lot to criticise Mark Zuckerberg about currently but I’m really not liking the way people are falling back on his personality. I’ve zero reasons to defend him and there is certainly a ‘punching up’ defence about being gratuitously mean about a figure in power. However, I know most reasonable people would instantly spot that using Jewish and anti-semitic stereotypes to mock him would be an appalling thing to do – precisely because doing so hurts others and perpetuates attitudes, beliefs and prejudices that hurt others.

The same goes for mocking him in ways that parallel the way autistic people (or people who aren’t autistic but who maybe mocked for being so) are mocked. It feeds negative stereotypes and normalises prejudices.

Note that the alt-right have been using both anti-semitic tropes and anti-autistic tropes about Mark Zuckerberg for years now. That’s often a good indication of what NOT to do. The issue isn’t that Zuckerberg might seem odd but that his company is trampling all over people’s privacy. He’s a rich arsehole and that would still be true if he was charismatically charming.

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20 thoughts on “Zuckerberg and negative tropes

  1. I agree with the sentiment, but what’s really been bothering me are the comparisons I keep seeing people make between Zuckerberg and Data from ST:TNG, because Data is an ethical person and a loving cat nurturer who would never run a dumpster fire like Facebook.

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    1. I’ve seen a post that compared him to the replicants from Blade Runner. Another comparison that doesn’t work, because Zuckerberg is closer to Tyrell than to any of the replicants.

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  2. All the criticism necessary can be aimed squarely at his actions. All his life he’s been a dudebro, right from the moment he stole his fellow students’ data in University just so he could rate how ‘pretty’ the girls were.

    He’s a creeper and always has been. He stole peoples’ personal information and sold it to “earn” his billions. He facilitated electoral fraud and only now is he acting sorry. I don’t buy it. He’s always been reprehensible.

    All of that is fair game. There’s enough to satisfy everyone’a need to rage at him without needing to stoop to anti-semitism and ableism.

    And people still look at me strangely when I say I’ve never trusted Farcebook.

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    1. It is notable that although I’m critical of the way Vox Day portrays Zuckerberg, Vox has been pointing out the toxic nature of Facebook for many years (at least since 2012 I think). He obviously didn’t want his followers data sucked up by Facebook and not without reason.

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      1. I left Facebook some time back, largely because they worked so hard to make their interface intolerable, but I’ve been happy to stay off of it because of their predatory ways. A friend who was an editor at TIME wrote an article about people leaving FB and had a couple of quotes from me, and the article ended up being pulled because something more important happened in the world somewhere (if you can imagine that!), but he did send me the page images as they looked, all set up with ads and everything.

        It is, perhaps, actually ironic in some way that a few months after I had extricated myself from their coils, I took a college class that required me to rejoin, though I protested it to the teacher. It was how he chose to keep in touch with the class. One old friend from Colorado found me and sent me a Friend request. Once the class was done with, I burned that account up as well, and have happily stayed away from membership ever since.

        I’ve never managed to convince any family member to drop FB, even with the recent revelations of how many accounts have been compromised. They’re fairly sane otherwise.

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      2. I’m curious to see the pricing on Idka (Teddy’s current FB alternative) when it comes out of beta, given that their whole deal is about not selling user data.

        Anyway, I maintain a Facebook account simply to keep in touch with people in multiple different countries. I spend a lot of time in E&SE Asia as well as Europe so I’ve got friends in a bunch of different places, and it’s the only platform that most people use.

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    2. Trans people, particularly, have been deeply impacted by the ‘real names’ policy. Zuckerberg quite simply doesn’t care how much he hurts people with it. He has no empathy.

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      1. Yes – the anti-trolling claims for real names were a reasonable argument but only if you ignored the impact on many groups. Further, a reasonable argument is beaten by empirical fact – Facebook is full of virulence and hate even with real names.

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      2. Another thing I dislike is that many blogs require Facebook membership in order to comment. Even ones that I’d been a member of from the beginning of the blog. Even political ones who should know damn well what Facebook does, has done, and is doing. I’ve complained repeatedly about being faceblocked, all to no avail.

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  3. I’ve never used Facebook, because it’s full of the sort of people (relatives I don’t like, former classmates, current students, which would make interaction seriously iffy) I don’t want to connect with. Plus, I always had my doubts about their data collection mania.

    As for Zuckerberg, his company and also he personally did a lot of questionable things. Nonetheless, I object to the way he has been portrayed in the media lately. It’s possible to disagree with what Facebook and Zuckerberg did without resorting to all sorts of nasty slurs. He also seems to have outgrown his toxic techbro persona since he got married and had kids, or at least, he changed his public image.

    Oddly enough, my Mom, who dislikes all social networks and the Internet in general, inevitably comments that Mark Zuckerberg seems like such a nice young man and that she believes he honestly means everything he’s saying about connection and transparency and how he wants to change the world.

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  4. I don’t think these techbros are robots or sci fi types at all. They are throwbacks to Gilded Era filibuster-capitalists, Gordon Gekkos with more comfortable sartorial style. They like money, power, beating the competitions, mocking people they consider to be lesser, and take pleasure in getting around rules. That’s it. That’s who they are.

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    1. EXACTLY. They hide behind the “autistic” stereotype to conceal the fact that they’re not accidentally being offensive, they’re doing it on purpose. Real people with autism aren’t mean or offensive on purpose, these guys are (I live Silicon Valley adjacent, so I’ve seen a couple generations of techbros).

      They’re predators, robber barons, and all that. They know exactly what they’re doing, and as long as they get theirs, it’s all good.

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