New York Magazine: The fall of Zuckustus

"Facebook’s once unbeatable ad-tracking system — the engine that made it a more than $1 trillion company — has effectively been neutralized by the likes of Apple."

From Kevin T. Dugan's "Zuckerberg Has Burned $500 Billion Turning Facebook to Meta" posted Friday:

There has never been a self-immolation quite like Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s social-media company has lost more than half a trillion dollars in market value since its August peak — about half of that vaporized in a single day, the biggest drop ever — as it starts to weaken from the constant siege of competitors and dissenterswithout and within. The fallout is so bad that Meta, once the sixth-largest company in the world by market capitalization, has fallen out of the top ten, replaced by two computer-chip makers, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and the Chinese e-commerce company Tencent. For a CEO who has openly courted comparisons to the Roman emperor Augustus, it’s an ignominious fall from a rarefied group of world-dominating companies.

We may be witnessing the early days of the fall of Zuckustus. Facebook’s once unbeatable ad-tracking system — the engine that made it a more than $1 trillion company — has effectively been neutralized by the likes of Apple, which allows users to block the company’s trackers. (Google is set to start phasing in similar protections to its users over the next two years.) Facebook’s user base has started to shrink after revelations by whistleblowers and leaks that showed how harmful social media could be to teen users, who are flocking to less toxic competitors like TikTok anyway. And Zuckerberg — clearly bored with the company he founded 18 years ago — has shifted his vision into an immersive version of the internet, complete with headsets and digital avatars, that he calls the metaverse, an ambition that sets up Facebook’s competition not with another Silicon Valley company but with reality itself.

The important piece of this is the ads. Essentially, there are two main channels for advertisers to sell digital ads: one based on what you search for and the other based on which sites you’ve visited and your other online behaviors. The latter was Facebook’s business model — and the reason you would get uncanny ads for goods before you even knew you needed them. Apple and Google have decided they’re going to allow their users to disable code that tracks people across the internet, which happens to be good for their business model. According to The Wall Street Journal, the fallout has been so severe that advertisers are shifting their entire ad budgets to Google since Facebook is no longer profitable. It’s a bitter irony for the company as its opaque rules about what would show up on users’ feeds once led to the rise of clickbait farms like ViralNova and the decimation of an untold number of local news sites across the world.

My take: It may be too early to dance around the fire. As someone said earlier this week, people hate Zuckerberg so much they forget that he's really smart.

9 Comments

  1. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    “My take: It may be too early to dance around the fire. As someone said earlier this week, people hate Zuckerberg so much they forget that he’s really smart.”

    Smart is one thing. Amoral is another.

    Good luck leading anything with that as your compass.

    11
    February 20, 2022
    • Rick Povich said:
      …and he is the epitome of sleazy

      2
      February 21, 2022
  2. John Manning said:
    Occasionally I’ll click through from the email and the page will just be comments, no story. This is one of those times.

    0
    February 20, 2022
  3. Fred Stein said:
    We’re seeing signs of cult behavior. People who disagree leave. Zuckerberg plays the victim by blaming Apple. Cults often make up words or use code words like Metamate.

    Worse is that Zuckerber’s current Metaverse product, Quest, relies on a business model that completely contradicts his own Metaverse vision. The emperor has no clothes. No one in the cult can call this out.

    I ignore nearly all FB posts except from two family members who promote their art – music, photography, and cooking. Most of the time, they link to YouTube.

    0
    February 21, 2022
  4. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. who are flocking to less toxic competitors like TikTok anyway.”

    Isn’t TikTok an extension of the Chinese Communist Party collecting information on users of the platform?

    6
    February 21, 2022
  5. Robert Stack said:
    Zuckustus? More like Disgustus if you ask me!

    5
    February 21, 2022
  6. David Emery said:
    “(Google is set to start phasing in similar protections to its users over the next two years.)”

    It would be -really unfortunate- if the demise of Meta lets Google off the hook for their tracking/surveillance culture. It seems Google wants us to believe they’re like Apple respect to privacy, but wants to behave more like Facebook.

    4
    February 21, 2022

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