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Elon Musk deletes Facebook

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This week we saw just how much billionaires enjoy kicking their fellow billionaires in the face. On W
 
March 23 · Issue #104 · View online
The Interface
This week we saw just how much billionaires enjoy kicking their fellow billionaires in the face. On Wednesday there was WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who made $6.5 billion from Facebook, telling everyone that “it is time” to delete Facebook. Two days later, Elon Musk chimed in with a snarky “What’s Facebook?” A few tweets later, Musk had decided to delete the Facebook pages of both Tesla and SpaceX. Collectively, they had more than 5 million followers.
My colleague Loren Grush reports:
After someone showed Musk a screengrab of the SpaceX Facebook page, he noted it was the first time he had seen it and that it would “be gone soon.” Then someone prompted him to delete Tesla’s Facebook page, with Musk responding that it “looks lame anyway.” And just for good measure, it seems that the Facebook page for Tesla-owned Solar City has disappeared as well.
Musk quit Facebook in the manner of many other disaffected users — which is to say, by keeping his Instagram accounts active.
It all began back in September 2016, when Zuckerberg’s $200 million Internet.org satellite exploded in a pre-launch test fire accident on one of Musk’s rockets. In response, Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post that he was “deeply disappointed” that “SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite,” a tone so passive aggressive that if it had come from a roommate I would probably start locking my door at night.
Nearly a year later, in a public Facebook Live stream, the Facebook CEO not-so-subtly took a jab at Musk’s anxiety toward artificial intelligence. Musk previously said that AI poses an existential threat to the human race—a viewpoint that Zuckerberg characterized as “pretty irresponsible.” While casually BBQing a brisket in his San Francisco backyard, Zuckerberg said he had “pretty strong opinions on this. I am optimistic.”
If there’s solace for Facebook after a terrible week, it’s that the high-profile deletions do not appear to have inspired millions of others to do the same. Alex Kantrowitz reports:
With Wall Street leading the way, the four entities with the strongest ability to cause long-term damage to Facebook in response to revelations that Cambridge Analytica illicitly used 50 million of its users’ data for political purposes didn’t seem ready to do so: Analysts told investors to buy the dip. Advertisers kept spending. Legislators continued to sit on their hands while a basic ad transparency bill rotted in Congress. And though users posted #DeleteFacebook en masse, Facebook actually rose to 8th place from 12th in the iOS mobile App Store since the day before the Cambridge Analytica news broke. It’s holding steady on Android, too.
At first blush, it appears that Zuckerberg’s media tour on Wednesday has stanched the bleeding. In the end, though, Facebook’s short-term recovery tells us little about its long-term prospects. One of the strangest things about the Cambridge Analytica story is that it became a lightning rod for controversy despite being arguably Facebook’s easiest problem to fix. Facebook will audit a few thousand apps and ratchet down the amount of data they are allowed to collect. More generalized worries about the company’s ad-based business model appear likely to fade.
But what of the information integrity crisis in the News Feed? What of the broader cultural reckoning over how we spend our time online? What of the decline in North American Facebook usage that began last quarter, and may well have continued into the current one?
I understand why you might look at Facebook’s download numbers and conclude that, lol, nothing matters. But if we learned one thing over the past week, it’s that what matters isn’t always what you expect.

Democracy
Data row firm Cambridge Analytica's offices raided after court order
Leaked: Cambridge Analytica's blueprint for Trump victory
Lawmakers hope to use Facebook’s ‘oil spill’ privacy mishap to usher in sweeping new laws
Facebook had a closer relationship than it disclosed with the academic it called a liar
Ex-regulators say Facebook's steps won't stop federal investigations
Zuckerberg Says Facebook Probe Into Apps Won’t Uncover All Data Abuse
Why Facebook users’ data obtained by Cambridge Analytica has probably spun far out of reach
The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, explained with a simple diagram
Cambridge Analytica’s “psychographic microtargeting”: what’s bullshit and what’s legit
Bolton Was Early Beneficiary of Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook Data
Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s collection of Facebook data, according to former employee
Facebook survey is asking Indians if they trust the platform or not
We’re taking steps to protect against future interference in our political conversation by state-sponsored propaganda campaigns
Elsewhere
In a bit of nuclear shade thrown Facebook’s way, the Apple promoted alternative social networks in the App Store today:
Federico Viticci
Real subtle, App Store. Well done. https://t.co/3zJ2vzsljZ
4:30 PM - 22 Mar 2018
Facebook hit with shareholder lawsuits over data misuse crisis
Bye Facebook, hello Instagram: Users head for Facebook-owned social network
Sonos is pulling its ads off Facebook and Instagram, but only for a week
Facebook Tries to Calm Advertisers After Cambridge Analytica Crisis
If Facebook controls your mind, so do a lot of other tech companies
Given Facebook’s Privacy Backlash, Why Aren’t We Angrier With the Broadband Industry?
Craigslist Shuts Personal Ads for Fear of New Internet Law
YouTube for Kids is still is still churning out blood, suicide and cannibalism
How publishers are monetizing their Facebook groups
Takes
Can Anyone Unseat Mark Zuckerberg?
Facebook faces a reputational meltdown - What Zuckerberg should do?
That Facebook is terrible at PR is unsurprising – and it’s partly the media’s fault
Facebook's Cambridge Analytica Scandal Is Part of a Bigger Problem
Don't Delete Your Facebook Account
Hey Mark Zuckerberg: Don't Lock Down Everyone's Data, Open It Up To Services That Give Your Users More Control Over Their Data
And finally ... a milestone
Thanks in large part to some lovely tweets from Andy Baio and Walt Mossberg, The Interface hit 2,000 subscribers last night. Thanks to everyone who spends some time with me each day reading about social networks and democracy. And to everyone who writes me at the end of the day with their thoughts — I appreciate you the most!
What do you know that I don't?
casey@theverge.com or DM me for my Signal. And have a great weekend!
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