Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been named The New Republic magazine’s « scoundrel of the year » for creating « the worst, most damaging website in the world. »
While awarding « nitwit » Zuckerberg the dubious honor on Wednesday, writer David Roth opined that Facebook had « made the world infinitely dumber, uglier, and worse in a number of obvious and inescapable ways, and is a miserable website to use to boot. »
Zuckerberg, who changed the name of Facebook’s holding company to Meta earlier this year, was critiqued for both allegedly lying about his company’s purported propensity to spread misinformation for profit and for pushing other « viral idiocies » into the social media realm.
« What Facebook most has in common with Zuckerberg is that it sucks—not just in the sense that it is lame and bad, » Roth wrote. « Even if you leave aside its authentic crimes against humanity, Facebook is still a machine built to turn lonely elderly relatives into blood and soil fascists; a haunted satellite that intermittently farts out the dispiriting opinions of random former high school classmates; a relentlessly tweaked, irredeemably borked newsfeed that shoves variously viral idiocies and advertisements at users with the horny and unlovable insistence of a frotteur moving through a crowded subway car. »
Roth insisted that Zuckerberg « got unconscionably rich off the worst website that has ever existed » before mocking him for plans to position the company as a leader in the virtual reality world with its « Metaverse » concept. He argued that « normal people » were not interested in Zuckerberg’s offer of a Facebook-powered virtual reality living space, writing that it was « extremely difficult to imagine someone choosing to work and live inside the website that convinced their grandparents that the germ theory of disease was a hoax. »
Zuckerberg’s Metaverse proposal has been widely mocked online, particularly his star turn in a science fiction-themed video that introduced the concept in October. Even Zuckerberg’s fellow billionaire Elon Musk, who Roth also chided, has dismissed the idea as « buzzword-y, » telling the conservative satirical website The Babylon Bee on Tuesday that he does not see the masses « strapping a frigging screen to their face all day and not wanting to ever leave. »
A beta tester of the company’s upcoming Horizon Worlds virtual reality platform also reported that her avatar had been sexually harassed by another tester’s avatar late last month. Meta’s Horizon Vice President Vivek Sharma told The Verge that the incident was « absolutely unfortunate » while asserting that the tester had not used safety features built into the platform.
Serious criticisms of Zuckerberg and his company predate the introduction of the Metaverse. Whistleblower Frances Haugen, who worked in Facebook’s civic integrity department until May 2021, filed a series of complaints with the Security and Exchanges Commission earlier this year and accused Zuckerberg of a putting « astronomical profits before people » during Senate testimony in October. Zuckerberg responded to the testimony by arguing that the allegation was « deeply illogical. »
Newsweek reached out to Facebook for comment.