An Open Letter To Mark Zuckerberg
An Open Letter To Mark Zuckerberg
By Sergio Toporek / bewareofimages.com

Dear Mark, I hope this letter reaches you, and finds you well.

First of all, allow me to congratulate you on your well-recognized achievements. Not everyone creates a telecommunications platform that redefines the way in which we all connect. I became a big fan of Facebook after incorporating it to my transmedia project Beware of Images. The project is aimed at generating media literacy awareness, and Facebook was helping us reach that goal. It was simple and worked perfectly, people became members, and they received our updates. However, as I write to you today, I am very frustrated and disappointed with the platform’s current direction.

I don’t know, and probably will never know about the problems and responsibilities of running a multi-billion dollar corporation. I am certain that managing a platform of almost a billion users, with all its technical, social, legal and economic complexities, must be a daunting task.

Still, it has become evident to anyone using the platform for community-building, that its recent direction is not guided by technological limitations, but by economic pressures. On my page, I have seen activity decline drastically, even as it constantly gains new members. When I finally received a reply from Facebook regarding this issue, I was advised to address it by spending on Promoted Posts.

I have made great sacrifices to pay for Facebook ads, and they have helped me gain new members. Directing an independent, not-for-profit project, I can’t afford to spend more on your platform than what I already do. Truthfully speaking, after investing much time, money and effort building a community which I’m now being limited to reach, I find Facebook’s current practices disconcerting. Not only because you’re preventing me from reaching members I’ve already paid to connect with, but because you’ve basically broken your own functioning system in order to sell us the solution.

But this is about much more than my little media literacy page, and that’s the reason I wanted to communicate with you.

I know that we live in an age of entitlement, which certainly accounts for many of the complaints you receive constantly. But there must be more than that when a free service, which by all means should be loved by its users, finds itself listed as one of the most hated companies in America.

In my opinion, this is not because Facebook is not an amazing tool, but because despite its huge public-benefit potential, the company is choosing to move in the opposite direction.  Also because users who have noticed this trend, and have expressed their concerns, feel targeted or ignored. Still, I’ll give it another shot.

I know that you’ve become one of the wealthiest men on the planet, but that alone does not impress me. I am impressed by Jonas Salk, the American virologist who developed the polio vaccine in 1955. At a time when polio was considered the most frightening public health problem of post-war America, Salk released his vaccine to the public domain. Make no mistake, he could have become a millionaire from his discovery, but he chose not to. Asked in an interview who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk replied: “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

I’m sure Mr. Salk understood that, unlike the sun, the polio vaccine was his achievement. He also understood what was riding on it, and how beneficial it could be for society at large.

I admire your achievements, but I’m beginning to doubt that Facebook, as a corporate entity, understands what’s riding on them or how beneficial they can be for society at large. Losing sight of this would be Facebook’s most regrettable mistake. How are millions of nonprofits to communicate and organize, when it becomes impossible to do so without spending money? What role will social media play the next time people are being oppressed by a dictator, but must pay to have their voices heard?

Originally, the Internet was praised as an unrestrained cultural equalizer, but many media critics –myself included– have been doubtful of this being an inherent quality of the medium. All previous telecommunication technologies began as open, and to a certain extent decentralized, only to become closed and monopolized. The World Wide Web does feature a decentralized structure guided by open standards, but as a layer of new proprietary platforms is laid above it, such characteristics are being seriously suppressed.

During the early 1940s, techno-utopians predicted the end of the public school system, as we were all going to receive educational programming through our TVs. Spreading over the public airwaves, it was assumed that TV programming was going to serve the public good. We all know how the monetization of markets through advertising transformed traditional media. It became a cluster of monopolized systems where money equals speech, and where society is perceived as little more than a segmented group of consumers.

It saddens me to see that this is exactly the direction in which you’re taking Facebook. For all the talk about how creative and revolutionary new media is, it has not been very creative about its monetization paradigm. Instead, it is slowly becoming just another environment where the old rules apply; where commercial and corporate interests topple social ones, and where only the wealthy can afford to reach a large audience.

Being a commercial visual-communicator for over two decades, I have serious worries about how advertising has corrupted all previous media technologies. After a decade of teaching media literacy, my goal today is to use my skills and knowledge to generate awareness about the subject. I’ve practically abandoned my commercial practice to produce an independent documentary about the history, regulation and social effects of media.

I’ve gone from having savings and a steady income to having debt and uncertainty, but I believe the goal is worth the sacrifice.

According to the Facebook website, you also have a goal, and it is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”

I’m convinced that if there’s anyone in the world that has the talent, ability and resources to achieve this, it is you. Your livelihood is not at risk, so why are you compromising? Whatever sacrifices you may have to make, they’ll be worth it, as your goal is a noble one.

As an advertising tool, Facebook will still connect millions around the world, but only as a consequence of a different goal and guiding principle. A goal to monetize its user-base by managing, controlling and limiting the way people share and connect. The exact opposite of its stated mission. Please, do not let this happen.

I hope you can accept this letter as my way of providing honest, positive and constructive feedback. Be sure that, however you may choose to approach it, I still wish you all the best.

As for me, I’d like to see my little page working properly again. But more than anything, I’d love to see a new generation of leaders acting responsibly, with the greater good as their guiding principle. We need fewer billionaire CEOs pandering to shareholders, and a few more Jonas Salks.

Thanks in advance for your attention.

Yours truly,
Sergio Toporek
Director, Beware Of Images

4.5 ·
5
What's Next
Trending Today
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 19,386 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 16,848 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
Something Extraordinary Is Happening in the World, And Most People Haven't Noticed
Gustavo Tanaka · 9,677 views today · Most of us haven't quite realized there is something extraordinary happening. A few months ago, I freed myself from standard-procedure society. I broke the chains of fear that...
Ikigai - Finding Your Reason for Being
Chip Richards · 7,495 views today · What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning? When asked what is the single most powerful contributing factor to one’s health and vitality, integrative medical...
Who Is Creating the Future Nobody Wants?
Joe Brewer · 7,275 views today · Here’s an amazing fact: It’s 2016 and humanity is collectively moving toward a future that nobody wants. We are literally going somewhere that will hurt every single one of...
The Most Eco-Friendly Nation on the Planet Is Now Carbon Negative
Carolanne Wright · 6,844 views today · Lodged between two of the most populated countries on earth — India and China — Bhutan may be small at 700,000 souls, but it has a mighty role to play in showing the world how...
A Simple 6 Step Self Compassion Exercise to Combat Depression and Low Self Esteem
5 min · 5,555 views today · It’s all too easy to be extremely tough on ourselves; we need – at points – to get better at self-compassion. Here is an exercise in how to lessen the voices of self-flagellation.
Protests Intensify, Spread Across France as Workers Refuse Submission
Andrea Germanos · 5,355 views today · 'What we want today is for this movement to spread,' says unionist.
Comic: If Bart Simpson and Chris Griffin Went to Couples Therapy
Panic Volkushka · 5,004 views today · "My dad was an abusive alcoholic, or whatever. He'd go to the bar, come home drunk, find out I'd f-cked up at school, and he'd choke me out."
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 4,857 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
A World War Has Begun - Break The Silence
John Pilger · 4,464 views today · I have been filming in the Marshall Islands, which lie north of Australia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I tell people where I have been, they ask, "Where is...
Changing Everything Except What Needs Changing: What's Missing From The Renewable Energy Debate
Steven Gorelick · 4,021 views today · Among climate change activists, solutions usually center on a transition to renewable energy. There may be differences over whether this would be best accomplished by a carbon...
What You Do for a Living Doesn’t Interest Me- I Want to Know What You Ache For
Oriah · 3,624 views today · It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you...
The Most Radical Experiment in Direct Democracy and Gender Equality can be Found in the Middle East
Rahila Gupta · 3,600 views today · Rahila Gupta meets the women fighters who are helping to stop the advance of ISIS while also leading a radical democratic charge against capitalist ideology. Welcome to the...
Permaculture Has Some Incredible Solutions For Transforming Suburbia Into Resilient Communities
Chip Richards · 3,249 views today · Rather than waiting for society to all agree how we need to live in a different way, by focusing here in the suburban household, people can actually get on with making...
Obama Plays a Dove in NPR's Historical Fiction
Jim Naureckas · 2,424 views today · The second thing NPR wants you to know about Hillary Clinton and foreign policy—after “she’s experienced”—is “she’s more hawkish than President Obama.” White House...
Regenerative Economies for a Regenerative Civilization
John Fullerton · 2,057 views today · There is nothing more difficult to plan, nor more dangerous to manage, than the creation of a new system. For the creator has the enmity of all who would profit by the...
Re-Learning the Land: a Story of Red Crow College (2015)
68 min · 1,966 views today · RE-LEARNING THE LAND is the story of a Blackfoot community in southern Alberta, Canada, and how they have re-taken control of their education system within Red Crow Community...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,746 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Britain's Landed Elite, Backed by Money Earned Through Slavery, Are Using Migrants as Scapegoats
Andrew Butler · 1,697 views today · This is Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, a Conservative Member of Parliament for South Dorset. He lives in Charborough House (pictured above) on his the family’s...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
An Open Letter To Mark Zuckerberg