Mark Zuckerberg had a bountiful 2017 — even though the year ended with the company he leads facing a barrage of criticism over its growing impact on politics and society.
Facebook’s surging stock price — up more than 50 percent this year — drove Zuckerberg’s wealth to $56 billion, making him one of the world’s five wealthiest people, according to Forbes.
In May, he received an honorary degree from Harvard, where he’d famously dropped out in 2004 to start Facebook.
Zuckerberg also completed a personal travel challenge he’d set for himself this year: To visit over 30 of the U.S. states he hadn’t been to before.
At home, he and wife Priscilla Chan welcomed a second child into their family as daughter August was born in the month she was named for.
These highlights were noted via popular posts on his own Facebook page, which has an audience of 99 million followers.
The post of the baby’s birth, for example, drew reactions from 2.5 million users, 154,000 of whom took the time to comment.
Still, all of that came before September, when Zuckerberg apologized for comments he made in December, 2016, when he said it was “laughable” to think Facebook’s technology might have impacted the U.S. presidential election.
Facebook itself now says an online propaganda operation based in Russia placed divisive political ads over a two-year period that may have been seen by as many as 126 million Americans.
In October, the person who ran President Trump’s online ad operation told a national TV audience that the campaign’s use of Facebook was a difference maker in the contest.
That opened the gates to a season of criticism directed toward the company from many quarters.
Among the criticisms: That its technology has helped widen political divisions and unfairly hooked consumers into using its services, by playing on their social needs and interests.
Throughout the fall, a number of Facebook’s early backers and employees have raised alarms about the company’s growing power.
One former privacy manager wrote a damning op-ed about his experience at the company, saying it “prioritized data collection over user protection.”
Members of the U.S. Congress, including Republicans and Democrats, have proposed legislation and regulation that could crimp growth at the company.
One would force Facebook to disclose more about who buys political ads and would make Facebook — and its fellow internet giants like Google — legally liable for content on their sites.
CNBC and other news organizations have shown that the company’s platform hosts many types of content that Facebook’s own rules say it shouldn’t, such as videos marketing illegal opioid sales and housing ads targeted by race or at racists.
Despite all the blowback, however, Zuckerberg ended the year making good on a commitment he’d made when his second daughter was born.
On Dec. 2, Zuckerberg said he would be taking off to finish his paternity leave.
Source: Tech CNBC
Despite a deluge of criticism, Mark Zuckerberg had a bountiful year