A major exposé by technology magazine Wired has shed light on Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s deteriorating relationship with the platform he bought, Instagram, and its co-founders.
The 10-000 word article, entitled 15 Months of Fresh Hell inside Facebook, drew on testimony from 65 current and former employees to tell the story of the company’s challenging 2018, which involved rising tensions between Zuckerberg and Instagram’s c0founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger that eventually led to their departure in September last year.
Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion back in 2012, and it now has an estimated one billion active users per month. Yet according to sources who spoke with the magazine, Zuckerberg started “souring” on the two men after he began excessively interfering in the platform’s decisions, many of which they did not agree with.
Zuckerberg was also reportedly left frustrated by Facebook’s declining user growth compared with Instagram’s aggressive expansion, leading some executives to believe that he was deliberately torpedoing its success over fears it was “cannibalizing” Facebook itself.
Amid repeated success stories for Instagram and difficulties for Facebook, including the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal that emerged in early 2018, Zuckerberg allegedly became upset. In response, Zuckerberg forced efforts to artificially boost Facebook by scrapping publicity for Instagram and providing linkbacks to Instagram when users cross-posted their content onto their Facebook feeds.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also faced many internal challenges based on what insiders told Wired. They mentioned pressure put on Sandberg by Breitbart News, amongst other outlets:
But resentment had been building for years, and after the Definers mess the dam collapsed. She was pummeled in the Times, in The Washington Post, on Breitbart, and in WIRED. Former employees who had refrained from criticizing her in interviews conducted with WIRED in 2017 relayed anecdotes about her intimidation tactics and penchant for retribution in 2018. She was slammed after a speech in Munich. She even got dinged by Michelle Obama, who told a sold-out crowd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on December 1, “It’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work all the time.”
The report merely provides the latest headache for the social media giant, with the leaks indicating a sense of disunity within the Silicon Valley firm. Facebook has so far refused to comment on the report.
Follow Ben Kew on Facebook, Twitter at @ben_kew, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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