Revealing what Zuckerberg truly thinks

A bombshell leak today saw audio from an internal Facebook meetings make it onto the internet, and the revelations are about as you'd expect: Zuckerberg isn't telling the full story when he speaks publicly on a range of topics, from monopoly to competition. 

The leak was published by Casey Newton at The Verge, and is fairly unprecedented. it includes comments on Zuckerberg seeing Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for the democrats, as an "existential" threat to the company's continued existence. 

I implore you to click through and read the piece, which is presented in a compelling way. What struck me most was this part, more than anything else:

"Zuckerberg sounds earnest and genial throughout the Q&A sessions. He jokes repeatedly about how he would have been fired several times over the years if he had not negotiated for total control over the company, drawing laughter from his employees."

Ha ha, it's so funny that I have so much power, right! Almost all of these quotes from internal meetings directly conflict with Zuckerberg's public statements, which isn't exactly a surprise, but it is shocking to hear it from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

This is a devastating revelation for critics of Facebook, but it also made me wonder something else: why don't all-hands recordings from technology companies leak regularly? Almost every startup and public tech company I can think of regularly holds 'town hall' internally, where executives promise to answer questions openly, and recordings are generally available for remote employees.

And yet, these often never hit the internet. I've listened in on many during my career as a technology journalist, and experienced them myself over the years at various startups: they're a staple of the industry, and they're incredibly low-hanging fruit for getting access to what a company truly thinks behind the scenes.

The wiser of these companies dispose of their recorded versions on regular cadences, to avoid historic leaks, but I know of many Facebook-scale companies that allow access to the entire back catalogue in the spirit of openness, which is a great way to provide background to new staff, but a massive risk if they are, in fact, being transparent.

This is all matters, because Facebook has historically been notoriously secretive in the industry, and getting information that wasn't riddled with kool-aid out of the company's walls was nigh impossible. 

Now that it's in the limelight, the leaks are coming fast and heavy, but it makes me wonder what else is in these types of recordings... and if they ever see the light of day, we might learn what Zuckerberg truly thinks on an array of topics. 

That is, of course, provided employees are willing to take the risk to leak those details‚ÄĒwhich takes a decent amount of guts, given that these companies are motivated to cause hell on earth for employees that¬†do¬†leak. But, in return, we finally get a peek at the real Zuckerberg, rather than the well-rehearsed public version of him.


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