Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg: bad boy, good boy or savior of the world?

He's probably the most powerful man in the world. At the head of an empire of more than two billion subjects who worship him daily. But he is also, in recent months, the most disparaged man in the world. His masterpiece, Facebook, seems to have become an uncontrollable monster overwhelmed by the mass of data and influence he has accumulated and can no longer control. Mark Zuckerberg, the libertarian with a patina of ultraliberalism, then calls, with his hand on his heart, for the regulation of states. A climax, discovered in an op-ed published this Sunday in several major media. But almost at the same time, we learn that 'Zuck', as he is kindly called, has other ambitions, of an unprecedented magnitude. He wants to make change. His plan is to confer supranational political legitimacy on his firm. A stable, non-speculative Facebook currency that could save the world. An attempt to decipher what is going on in the head of this man, genius or madman, but singularly enigmatic.
Ahe column by Mark Zuckerberg, the mythical boss of Facebook, was published this Sunday, March 31, in several media including the Washington Post in the United States, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany and Le Journal du dimanche in France, and intrigued the editorialists. Coming after the affair Cambridge Analytica and a series of setbacks accusing Facebook of becoming a monster not only uncontrollable but dangerous, this forum resounds first and foremost as a recognition of the drifts. Not a mea culpabut the implicit acceptance that all the speeches and hearings of the Facebook boss have not been able to calm the flow of criticism.

Accused of the worst

The social network has indeed been accused for months of the worst sins: having allowed personal data to be used to manipulate political campaigns such as that of Brexit, the American or Brazilian elections, having allowed the instant diffusion of the Christchurch massacre, or having allowed, through laxity or negligence, the spread of hateful, racist or conspiratorial speech on its network, having supported its irresponsibility in the face of abuses while continuing to grow, to accumulate billions of dollars and users who no longer know and can no longer do without the network's drugs.
In his column, Mark Zuckerberg notes the drifts but refrains from declaring that he can correct them. The network cannot regulate itself. He then called for help from States; he recommended that public authorities around the world play a "more active role" in regulating the Internet, in particular enjoining more States to take inspiration from European rules on the protection of privacy (the now famous RGPD). « I am convinced that governments and regulators need to play a more active role. ", writes Mark Zuckerberg.
Changing the regulation of the Internet will allow us to preserve the best of the Internet - the freedom for people to express themselves and the opportunity for entrepreneurs to create - while protecting society from broader harm. "he continues. Zuckerberg believes that new regulations are needed in four areas: violent and hateful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability. These are precisely the areas that have been the subject of most criticism.

States to the rescue?

The libertarian of Silicon Valley, the pragmatic champion of the purest ultraliberalism, therefore calls the States to the rescue! Some commentators see it as Gaspard Koeniga return to the social contract, or like Laurent Joffrin in his Political LetterA St. Paulian conversion signing the end of ultraliberalism. The libertarian Facebook, like all of its Silicon Valley brethren, wanted to reinvent laws and unify humanity. Today, it realizes that rules are necessary and calls for them to be formulated.
Faced with these flights of fancy, we must immediately calm our happiness if Zuck is capable of producing such a feeling. Indeed, when you read last Sunday's tribune carefully, you can see that Mark Zuckerberg is not calling the nation-states to the rescue. They are not on the scale of the problem or of the transnational nature of the Internet and the flow of data. No, he is calling for the creation of a global regulatory framework that would be organized by "... the nation states...". third-party bodies "whose mission would be to define some sort of universal standards. Mark Zuckerberg does not specify what these third party bodies would be, let alone their democratic legitimacy. Would they be think tanks, NGOs, international organisations, agencies bringing together states, the prefiguration of global governance bodies? We do not know.
What we do know is that Zuckerberg, as a perfectly good boy, swears an oath to abide by these future rules.
Zuck doesn't want to be accused of being lax in the face of criticism of his Facebook. « It's not in Facebook's best interest to be constantly accused of operating in an unregulated space. "explained to the newspaper in January... The World...Nick Clegg, the head of public affairs for the social network. The Facebook boss's strategy is clever: to relieve himself of some of his responsibilities and transfer to other bodies the definition of the rules and the layout of the milestones not to be exceeded. Tommaso Valletti, chief economist at the European Commission's Directorate General for Competition, pointed this out in a message on Twitter: "We have to be careful not to overlook the fact that we are not the only ones who are responsible for the social network's public affairs," he said. Zuckerberg seeks the privatization of profits and the socialization of problems. ». Similarly, by convening "third party bodies", those supranational bodies that are still unclear, Zuck seeks to avoid national laws that risk being too harsh in favour of negotiated standards. What do you want, you can't get rid of your ultraliberalism all of a sudden.

Beating change

We could leave it at that and dream of a world that is finally peaceful, fluid and gently regulated. Mark Zuckerberg has a knack for seducing us. And make us think we're lanterns with bladders. Because that image of bad boy who suddenly became a nice boy suddenly finds himself completely redistributed, reset, by a piece of information. Rather a non-denial that opens new dimensions to perplexity: Facebook intends to create a currency.
Le New York Times had already spilled the beans several weeks ago, explaining that the Californian giant was seriously working on the creation of a Facebook currency. Mark Zuckerberg would have been thinking about it for a long time and would have built the architecture of his group as if he only had this idea in mind. Indeed, with 2.3 billion users, Facebook has a unique potential in the world to create a currency and develop virtual payments through its messaging systems WahtsApp and Messenger. In Zuck's mind, it's not a question of creating yet another cryptomony or adding one more bitcoin to an already long list. Zuckerberg is not a follower but a creator. According to an expert interviewed by the site Scholar.comwhat he wants to do is beat up money and make money." the most stable and least speculative benchmark in the world ".
Zuckerberg's idea became more concrete with the setting up of a team dedicated to the project at Memlo Park, the Californian headquarters of the social network, with around fifty people working in the greatest discretion, in almost complete isolation. A fighting staff, led by the best that can be done: David Marcus, the former boss of Paypal. The launch of this currency would be imminent: as early as this summer.

Sovereignty and legitimacy

Beat it. This is the regalian privilege of the states. The strong symbol of sovereignty. It is often said that with its billions of users, Facebook is the number one country in the world. Is it nevertheless, in terms of legitimacy, a state? Certainly not, so far. Facebook reigns over a market, a gigantic one, but only a market. A state is based on the principle of political legitimacy born of elections. A legitimacy that allows the state to legislate, to use legitimate violence, to regulate society and the lives of its citizens; to exercise power.
Is political and democratic legitimacy being challenged by a new form of legitimacy, that of the market? Facebook certainly has immense power: that of capturing a market and applying its law to it. Does this mean that it is legitimate? Some might be tempted to answer in the affirmative. Indeed, in a political democracy, we vote a few times; in a market, we vote on every purchase, every use of a service. Does market power confer any legitimacy? Mark Zuckerberg seems to think so. Therefore, when he forms the project to mint money, he attributes to himself an essential sign of the State: "... the power of the State is a sign of the State. A currency is the symbol that reinforces belonging to a community, it is a vehicle for social ties. " described the economist Philippe Herlin. All these dimensions are the very nature of Mark Zuckerberg's social network.


Zuck's desire to beat the currency changes register; in doing so, he marks the height of political legitimacy, one based on trust, a vital element that is sorely lacking in many States. Zuckerberg knows that he can create a currency, because today's world offers him that opportunity. He has the legitimacy to do so, which is no longer conferred by politics or democracy but by the market.
On the other hand, the element of trust is too damaged by Facebook's multiple security holes and operational drifts to do its job properly.
With a view to creating a currency, the diverse and varied peoples who make up the huge cohort of Facebook users must be reassured that they will have to give up trust in the network, especially since it will affect their wallets. This explains why Zuckerberg has chosen to write his column for Sunday. He knows perfectly well that all the criticisms made against the network ruin his project. By shifting responsibility for regulating the inevitable drifts and unavoidable of the social network to other bodies and by declaring that he agrees to abide by their future rules, Zuck is making an operation to regain the trust that is essential to forge the legitimacy of his future currency.
Especially since Zuckerberg's project does not consist in creating just any currency, but a reference currency. A currency that is insensitive to market shocks and monetary hazards, a safe and strong currency. The Facebook boss dreams of a non-speculative currency, which would fulfil a social utility.
On this last point, he is playing on velvet, as financial institutions, whether public or private, such as banks, are no longer recognised by the people, because they no longer operate in and for the economy, but rather against it. The yellow jackets have broken banks, Wall Street and the City are clacking because people have understood that the driving force behind these institutions is speculation and index management. Financial institutions no longer play the economy's game in the eyes of the public, quite the opposite. And their little game leads to crises.
By promising a stable currency, Zuckerberg is sending a lifeline to the world whose horizon is limited to the anxious expectation of another crash. Zuckerberg, savior of the world: what better way to sharpen your ego?
Header image : source / PPCorn

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