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article imageOp-Ed: The BBC's biography of Facebook and its founder

By Alexander Baron     Dec 6, 2011 in World
A review of a BBC TV documentary about Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg, how it generates revenue, and where the company is headed.
Above all else, this documentary solved one problem, Zuckerberg is pronounced Zucker as in pukka rather than Zooker as in cooker. Doubtless that will come as a great relief to limerick writers everywhere.
It's difficult to believe that Facebook has been around for only seven years, and that its founder is still only 27. At times Zuckerberg has given the impression that he could use a charisma transplant from Bill Gates, but this documentary shows that is something of an overstatement. It covers Facebook's inception from his days as a Harvard undergraduate up until the present.
Mark Zuckerberg: Inside Facebook is presented by Emily Maitlis, who is one of the best known faces on the BBC as a news presenter, both nationally and for London. The documentary is currently on BBC iplayer for those who can receive it, and it is best left to speak for itself.
A couple of observations are worth noting though. Most of the company's staff appear to be even younger than Zuckerberg, and although he knows how to party, basically this is a guy who has a one track mind, that of developing the website he gifted to the world, and in the nicest possible way.
Although the idea behind Facebook was not new even when Zuckerberg was at Harvard, he can rightly be called its inventor. Though people who are filthy rich often say or act as though they don't care about the trappings of wealth, that can honestly be said of Zuckerberg. This is a man who although a billionaire was up until recently living in a one room apartment.
The documentary gives an insight into how Facebook and Google target advertisements to their markets without breaching user privacy.
This is likely to be a big issue if not the big issue for Facebook and all websites in the future, with reference not only to commercial considerations but more importantly to Big Brother. In this respect, Facebook, Google and indeed most of the big players are distinctly Libertarian, and for the most part have refused to bow to either governments or self-appointed net police like the odious and misnamed Anti-Defamation League as well as wimmin's groups and prurient censorship activists, Christian and otherwise. Most people would agree that if the web is infested with hate sites, smut and queer porn, this is an acceptable price to pay for those who would impose their moral codes and ideologies on the rest of us under threat of legal sanction.
One important point that should be raised, there has been talk of Zuckerberg floating Facebook on the stockmarket. While this would doubtless make him even richer, this is a man who not only doesn't care for material trappings, as stated, but has already turned down offers of $1 billion and $15 billion. If he does float the company, it may be that at some time in the future he will lose control of it.
Demon Internet, Britain's first Internet Service Provider, was founded by entrepreneur Cliff Stanford. In 1998, he sold the company; what happened next was not pleasant.
Facebook without Zuckerberg would not be Facebook anymore, but simply another faceless corporation in search of profit. At any cost.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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