Mark Zuckerberg’s bet on the future of Facebook is virtual reality meetings with your coworkers

Facebook horizon workrooms model
Facebook launched Horizon Workrooms on Thursday

  • Facebook launched Horizon Workrooms, a VR workspace for team meetings, on Thursday.
  • Mark Zuckerberg said he sees Facebook’s future in the virtual reality “metaverse.”
  • But Facebook has tried – and failed – to create workspace products in the past.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mark Zuckerberg wants us all to work in virtual reality.

Zuckerberg announced the launch of Horizon Workrooms, a virtual reality workspace that lets employees mimic team meetings and socializing, on CBS Morning News on Thursday.

Using the Oculus Quest 2, Facebook’s virtual reality headset, users can create avatars that would access their work laptop and interact with colleagues in a virtual “metaverse.” The technology also allows for socializing with coworkers, real-world experiences which Facebook said cannot be replicated with current remote work tech.

“Without the right connective tools, remote work still has plenty of challenges,” Facebook said in a release. “Working without colleagues around you can feel isolating at times, and brainstorming with other people just doesn’t feel the same if you’re not in the same room.”

Facebook’s new tools coincide with a COVID-19 pandemic-era shift in how we work. Employees are pushing for remote work options, and a significant number are willing to quit their jobs if employers can’t provide flexible options. And though leisure travel made a comeback this summer as vaccinations picked up, business travel did not.

avatars look at charts inside Facebook's Horizon Workrooms metaverse
“I think of the metaverse as the next generation of the internet,” Zuckerberg told CBS’s Gayle King.

Facebook has tried – and failed – to create popular work products in the past. Few companies use Facebook at Work, an internal messaging platform, over Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Chat, per Mio Industry Trends.

Facebook’s push beyond social media also reflects its slowing growth. Though the site has the most total monthly users of all other platforms, Insider Intelligence expects Facebook to experience its slowest year for user growth in 2021.

Earlier this year, Zuckerberg told The Verge’s Casey Newton he intends to transform Facebook to a “metaverse company” from the existing social media platform. Last year, the company began inviting some people to use Facebook Horizon, an app that allows users to interact in a virtual reality world.

“I think of the metaverse as the next generation of the internet,” Zuckerberg told CBS’s Gayle King. “So you can kind of think about it as, instead of being an internet that we look at, right, on our mobile phones or our computer screens, it’s an internet that we are a part of, or that we can be inside of.”

Read more: The 4 most important areas Salesforce is focused on as it competes with and fends off Microsoft

Facebook isn’t the only company trying to stake claim in the metaverse. Roblox, a gaming platform that allows users to build their own metaverse, went public in March with a nearly $44 billion valuation.

a user accesses his work email on Facebook's Horizon Workrooms metaverse
Facebook has tried – and failed – to create work products in the past.

But Roblox missed on its most recent earnings after bookings, or the virtual currency users spend on clothes and avatar accessories, showed slower than expected growth.

“All these tools, whether it’s video conferencing, or eventually being able to collaborate better in the metaverse, in products like Workrooms, what we built here, I think is all just part of this progression of giving people more freedom to live where they want,” Zuckerberg said on CBS.

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The luxury boats owned by some of the wealthiest people in tech, from a yacht so big it has its own support boat to superyachts with swimming pools and basketball courts

Jeff Bezos
  • Many billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson enjoy spending their time on massive luxurious yachts.
  • The boats are decked out with amenities that many Americans can only dream of.
  • Here are some of the billionaires in tech who own private yachts.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Billionaires are often known for their luxurious lifestyles and high profile gadgets.

Some billionaires, like Elon Musk and Bill Gates, buy private planes to take control of the open skies – others purchase yachts to access the open seas.

From Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison, and Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, many leaders in tech have created their own mini vacation hubs at sea, decking their boats with amenities like gyms, spas, pools, nightclubs, and movie theaters.

If you want to find out what life is like aboard these multi-million-dollar yachts, some of them are available to rent out for a few nights or weeks at a time. For instance, late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s yacht is expected to be available for rent for around $1 million per week, The Guardian reported. In the past, chartering yachts owned by billionaires like Alphabet President Sergey Brin has cost customers anywhere from $773,000 a week to $1.2 million.

Take a look at some of the yachts that have been owned by tech billionaires.

A mystery buyer bought a 414-foot superyacht that was once owned by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for $278 million. Allen had the boat, which was named “Octopus,” built in 2003 for $200 million. Since the tech billionaires death in 2018, the boat has been listed for as much as $325 million.

The blue hull of the luxury yacht "Octopus" sits at the dock in London's Canary Wharf
Octopus in Canary Wharf, London, in 2012.

Source: SuperYacht Times

The undisclosed Scandinavian buyer is expected to charter the yacht for the first time in January 2022 via major yachting broker, Camper & Nicholsons. A price has yet to be announced for renting the boat, but it is expected to be around $1 million per week.

octopus paul allen luxury yacht
414ft luxury yacht ‘Octopus’ owned by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, is moored to fuel up at Ege Ports in Kusadasi district of Aydin, Turkey on April 27, 2015.

Sources: The Guardian, SuperYacht Times

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is building his own 127-meter yacht, according to a book. The yacht is so massive it has an additional “support yacht” with its own helipad.

bezos
Jeff Bezos.

Source: Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire

Bezos has long been interested in yachts. In 2019, he was spotted aboard entertainment mogul David Geffen’s superyacht.

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David Geffen’s superyacht

Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison owns a 288-foot yacht named Musashi that he acquired in 2013.

larry ellison musashi yacht

Source: Forbes

Ellison has owned several superyachts over the years, including the Katana, the Ronin, and the Rising Sun.

rising sun

The Oracle cofounder also has a knack for competitive yacht racing, and helped to found and back a racing team, called Oracle Team USA, in 2000. The team has found success and won several prestigious titles over the years.

larry ellison oracle yacht team usa

Source: Telegraph

Ellison previously owned a bigger, 454-foot yacht called Rising Sun, which was designed specifically for the CEO in 2005. That yacht reportedly has 82 rooms, a movie theater, a wine cellar, and a basketball court. However, Ellison sold off the Rising Sun to Geffen for a reported $300 million.

Larry Ellison

Source: Forbes, Boat International

Ellison’s boat, Musashi, is a sister ship to the yacht of another billionaire, former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert. However, the yacht, named Fountainhead, is often mistaken for belonging to billionaire investor Mark Cuban. “The guy who owns the boat tells everyone that it’s mine,” Cuban told Page Six in 2016. “It’s so crazy … I don’t even own a boat.”

Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban.

Source: Page Six

Ellison’s yacht reportedly influenced the decision of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs to get a boat himself. However, Jobs never set foot on the boat – the yacht was commissioned in 2008, but wasn’t completed until 2012, a year after his death.

Steve Jobs

Source: Business Insider

When Jobs died in 2011, his yacht – along with his $14.1 billion fortune – was inherited by his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and president of a social-impact nonprofit called the Emerson Collective. The 256-foot yacht in named Venus, and is worth $130 million.

laurene powell jobs steve jobs yacht

Source: Business Insider

Google’s cofounders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, are two of the richest people in the world. The two billionaires are known to splurge: In addition to each owning a super yacht, they both own private planes as well.

Larry Page Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin (left) and Larry Page.

Sources: Forbes, Business Insider

Page owns a yacht named Senses, a $45 million 194-foot boat that he bought in 2011 from a New Zealand businessman. The yacht has a private beach club with a Jacuzzi and sun beds, both indoor and outdoor dining areas, and a helicopter pad.

Larry Page superimposed with Senses yacht

Source: Boat International

Meanwhile, Brin owns a longer, 240-foot yacht that he bought for a cool $80 million in 2011. It’s reportedly one of the world’s fastest super yachts, and is equipped with a dance floor and open-air movie theater.

dragonfly yacht

Source: Business Insider

Brin’s yacht is named Dragonfly. The boat shares a name with Google’s once-secret project to launch a censored search engine in China. Google said in 2019 it had officially terminated the project.

Sergey Brin

Source: Business Insider, Forbes

But Brin and Page aren’t the only two high-powered Google figures with yachts. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt owns a 194-foot yacht name Oasis. The yacht reportedly features a pool and a gym-turned-nightclub. He bought the boat in 2009 for a reported $72.3 million.

eric schmidt oasis

Sources: Business Insider, GQ

For Skype cofounder Niklas Zennstrom, his interest in yachts skews toward racing and competitive sailing. Zennstrom has gone through a succession of boats all named Ran, and his most recent purchase is the seventh in the series.

Co-Founder and CEO of Skype Technologies, United Kingdom Niklas Zennstroem
Co-Founder and CEO of Skype Technologies, United Kingdom Niklas Zennstroem listens during a plenary entitled ‘Digital 2.0:Powering a Creative Economy’ at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,

Source: CNN

His latest yacht, appropriately named Ran VII, is the most technologically advanced of all of Zennstrom’s boats. The racing yacht uses electrical power, which Zennstrom says makes it “lighter, less drag, quieter, and most importantly it is environmentally friendly.”

ran vii 7 yacht niklas zennstrom

Source: CNN

The 40-foot yacht will compete in regattas through the racing team owned by Zennstrom and his wife, Catherine. The Ran racing team launched in 2008, and has won some prestigious regattas.

ran 7 yacht niklas zennstrom
The Ran racing team.

Source: CNN

Barry Diller, chairman of digital media company IAC, co-owns a $70 million yacht with his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.

Barry Diller Diane Von Furstenberg
Diane von Furstenberg, left, and Barry Diller.

Source: Business Insider

The sailing yacht, named Eos, is 350 feet long with six bedrooms. The power couple has hosted many celebrities over the years – a few that have been spotted aboard Eos include model Karlie Kloss, actor Bradley Cooper, journalist Anderson Cooper, and singer Harry Styles.

eos

Source: W Magazine

For Jim Clark, the cofounder of Netscape, one yacht hasn’t been enough. Clark has owned boats for more than 30 years, and in 2012, he put up two of his sailing yachts for sale.

jim clark boat
Jim Clark, right.

Source: Business Insider

Clark listed the boats for a combined $113 million: the 136-foot Hanuman for $18 million, and the 295-foot Athena for $95 million. However, Clark has yet to offload Athena. Clark also previously owned a 155-foot yacht named Hyperion, and currently also owns a racing yacht named Comanche.

jim clark athena yacht
The yacht Athena.

Source: Boat International

Charles Simonyi worked at Microsoft until 2002, and oversaw the creation of Microsoft Office software. A few years before he left, Simonyi decided to purchase a yacht. He told the designer that wanted his yacht to be “home away from [his] home in Seattle.”

Charles Simonyi

Source: Boat International

The product of that conversation in 1999 is Simonyi’s yacht named Skat, meaning “treasure” in Danish. The yacht measures 233 feet long, and is unique with its nontraditional design and gray color. Skat features a matching gray helicopter, a gym, and motorcycles.

charles simonyi skat yacht

Source: Yacht Charter Fleet

Opulent British billionaire Richard Branson owned a yacht until he sold it in September 2018. The 105-foot catamaran sold for $3 million, significantly lower than the $9.6 million price Branson listed the boat for in 2014.

richard branson necker belle

Source: Business Insider

Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, bought the boat in 2009. He named it Necker Belle, a nod to his private Caribbean island, Necker Island.

Necker Island

Source: Business Insider

Additional reporting by Paige Leskin.

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Facebook will require all US employees wear masks on its office campuses, even if they’re fully vaccinated

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Facebook’s US employees will have to wear masks in offices from Wednesday onwards.
  • The mask policy applied to all employees, including fully vaccinated people, Facebook told CNBC.
  • Facebook on Thursday told staff that they must be fully vaccinated before they return to the office.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook on Monday announced it would require all US employees to wear masks on the company’s office campuses, even if they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19, CNBC first reported.

The new policy will start on Wednesday and remain until further notice. “The health and safety of our employees and neighbors in the community remains our top priority,” a spokeswoman for the company said in a statement to CNBC.

“Given the rising numbers of COVID cases, the newest data on COVID variants, and an increasing number of local requirements, we are reinstating our mask requirement in all of Facebook’s U.S. offices, regardless of an employee’s vaccination status,” the spokeswoman said.

The mask policy comes the week after the social-media giant announced that staff coming into US offices must be fully vaccinated.

Read more: Media companies including Bloomberg, The Washington Post, and ViacomCBS detail their return-to-office plans as workers push for flexibility after the pandemic

It was prompted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated guidelines, which recommended vaccinated people wear masks indoors because they still transmit the virus. It comes as COVID-19 cases are spiking in the US, fueled by the more infectious Delta variant.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, followed suit, has also said all employees should wear masks in its office, regardless of their vaccination status, as they return to work.

Insider asked Facebook for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mark Zuckerberg’s $23.4 million in security costs last year is more than the combined cost of keeping 10 other top execs safe

facebook mark zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Facebook spent more than $25 million on CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2020. He collected a salary of $1.
  • More than $23.4 million of that amount was for personal security for Zuckerberg and his family.
  • The combined security for ten other top tech execs, including Sheryl Sandberg, was $23.3 million.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook spent more than $23.4 million on security costs for CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2020, according to the company’s annual executive compensation report.

Zuckerberg receives a pre-tax annual allowance of $10 million for his family’s security, and in 2020, Facebook spent an additional $13.4 million on personal security for Zuckerberg “at his residences and during personal travel pursuant to Mr. Zuckerberg’s overall security program,” the filing said.

In total, Facebook’s expenditure is greater than the combined cost of providing security for ten other top tech execs, which an analysis of CEO security during the pandemic by Protocol tallied up to $23.3 million.

Read more: Security experts slam Facebook for downplaying a massive data leak as old news

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg was the runner-up in the Protocol tally, with more than $7.6 million spent on her safety in 2020. Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai came in third with $5.4 million.

Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was compensated $1.6 million by his company for security, while he paid additional costs himself. Meanwhile, Uber paid $120,000 to set up CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s home office, and has assigned a security specialist to his house, Protocol reported.

In 2019 Facebook spent $20.4 million on protecting its founder, including $10.4 on personal security and the annual allowance of $10 million for his family’s security. The company also spent $2.9 million on his private jets.

The $3 million rise in security spend from 2019 to 2020 was “primarily due to regular personal travel, costs relating to security protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, increased security coverage during the 2020 US elections and other periods with increased security risk, and market increases in the costs of security personnel,” Facebook said.

“Mr. Zuckerberg’s role puts him in a unique position,” the company wrote in the filing. “He is synonymous with Facebook, and as a result, negative sentiment regarding our company is directly associated with, and often transferred to, Mr. Zuckerberg.”

Zuckerberg accepted a $1 salary from Facebook, as he has in previous years, and didn’t receive any bonus payments or incentive compensation, the company said in the filing.

Facebook and other social media platforms faced a surge in misinformation on their sites when the pandemic started and the US elections kicked off. After former President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the election was stolen, including via his Facebook page, and triggered rioters to storm the US Capitol, the social media site suspended him indefinitely.

In March, Zuckerberg faced Congress with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to talk about spread of misinformation on their social media platforms. Zuckerberg also faced the Senate in November to be challenged by lawmakers about decisions Facebook took around the election.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mark Zuckerberg got roasted in one of Facebook’s most notoriously strict groups for breaking its golden rule

beast dog mark zuckerberg
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been roasted by members of the popular group Dogspotting Society.
  • They criticized him for not including a picture of his dog, a Puli named Beast, when making a post.
  • Some jokingly said to ban Zuckerberg, as the group’s golden rule is to put a dog photo in each post.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mark Zuckerberg got roasted by members of one of Facebook’s most popular groups after he violated its golden rule.

The Facebook CEO recently posted in the public group Dogspotting Society about a new feature that lets admins of a group designate members experts.

“Admins can collaborate with group experts to host Q&As, share perspectives, and respond to questions,” he wrote in the post. “I’m excited for you to try these updates, so I wanted to do a Q&A on something I may be a bit of an expert at: owning a Puli!”

Noticeably missing from his post was a picture of a dog. The group’s practice is that all posts should include a dog photo, a practice some members refer to as “paying the dog tax.”

Members were quick to point out Zuckerberg’s mistake.

several Facebook comments about Mark Zuckerberg not posting a picture of his dog

“You should know better than anyone posts with a photo get the most traction here. SHOW THE DOG ZUCKERBERG,” one member commented. “He shouldn’t be exempt from paying dog tax,” another added. A third commenter chimed in, “You think you can just come in here without posting a photo of your dog? SHOW US THE DOG.”

It seems they got through to Zuckerberg. After answering questions about his dog, a Puli named Beast, in his group Q&A, Zuckerberg paid the required dog tax.

His latest post in Dogspotting Society includes several photos of his dog.

Mark Zuckerberg's dog, Beast, mid-jump

“This is a great group — keep up the dog spotting!” he wrote.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told staff that Sheryl Sandberg had ‘good skin’ and they should have ‘a crush’ on her, new book says

Sheryl Sandberg walks with Mark Zuckerberg at Sun Valley
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly said staff should have “a crush'” on COO Sheryl Sandberg.
  • Zuckerberg also told staff Sandberg had “good skin,” according to an employee cited in a new book.
  • “An Ugly Truth” says there were “demeaning comments casually made about women around the office.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made unprofessional remarks to colleagues about COO Sheryl Sandberg after she joined the company, according to a new book.

Katherine Losse, who was Facebook employee No. 51, said he “mentioned to staff that Sandberg had ‘good skin,’ and said they should have ‘a crush’ on her,” according to An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination. Losse previously made these claims in her own book, “The Boy Kings.”

When it came to addressing improper comments made by other Facebook employees, things weren’t very different, Losse told the book’s authors, Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang.

According to the book, at a company meeting, someone brought up a remark that a male employee had said to a female colleague: “I want to put my teeth in your a**.” Zuckerberg responded, “What does that even mean?” and Losse raised the matter with him later, the book says.

“He listened to me, which I appreciated, but understanding the crux of the matter; that is, that women by virtue of our low rank and small numbers were already in a vulnerable situation in the office, did not seem to register,” she told the book’s authors, who say she was “struck by his callowness.”

“When Mark said ‘what does that even mean?’ he was being dismissive of the comment,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. “In the meeting where the comment was addressed, he read the comment and made it clear it was unacceptable.”

Regarding the claims of Zuckerberg’s inappropriate remarks about Sandberg, the spokesperson said, “This is false. Mark never said this.”

A female former Facebook employee told Insider she didn’t hear Zuckerberg make any of these remarks, but it was possible he did. This employee joined Facebook in 2008, while Losse started working there in 2005.

“If he said it, I don’t recall it; it wasn’t said during my time,” she told Insider. “This commentary that makes it feel like it was very male-dominated or that women were all low-ranking and that they were all vulnerable and that there were all these sexist remarks floating about – that is not the Facebook I experienced at all.”

On her first day, Sandberg had made a good impression on the predominantly male engineers she spoke to in a meeting, according to the book. Zuckerberg had told the team Sandberg would help “scale” the company, the book says.

“We’re going to have one thousand people someday, and we’re going to have ten thousand people someday, and then forty thousand people someday,” she said in the meeting, according to the book. “And we’re going to get better, not worse. That’s why I’m here. To make us bigger and better, not worse.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Facebook saw signs of violence ahead of the Capitol riot, but was too scared to bring it up with Trump, book says

Zuck
Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2018.

  • Facebook detected an upsurge in posts by extremists ahead of January 6, a new book says.
  • Executives, it says, mulled asking Mark Zuckerberg to reach out to Trump but decided against it.
  • Facebook has long been criticised for allowing extremist content to spread on its platform.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook was so concerned about the violent rhetoric spreading on its platform ahead of January 6 that it considered contacting President Donald Trump, a new book claims.

But it instead decided against it for fear of bad publicity, according to an excerpt from “An Ugly Truth” by New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang.

The excerpt was published by CNN’s in the July 13 edition of its “Reliable Sources” email.

It says that security experts at Facebook grew concerned about posts by “domestic extremists” spreading on the platform before January 6, 2021, when Trump had planned a rally near the Capitol to push his bogus election fraud claims.

Facebook executives, the authors write, “floated getting Zuckerberg to call Trump to find out what the president would say” at the rally.

“They ultimately decided against the move, out of concern that the conversation would likely leak to the press. It could make Facebook complicit in whatever Trump did that day.”

In a statement to Insider, a Facebook spokesperson pushed back against the claims though did not address the specific claim that the idea of approaching Trump was dismissed before it was broached with Zuckerberg.

“No such discussion took place with Mark, nobody suggested he call, and he didn’t. If Trump ignored the pleas of his own Vice President, the idea that Mark Zuckerberg could have influenced him is absurd,” said the spokesperson.

The anecdote was also related by Bloomberg tech reporter Sarah Frier in a review of the book in The New York Times on Saturday.

Facebook executives, Frier wrote, decided not to act over the violent rhetoric. “Instead, they sat at home and watched as Trump stirred up the furious crowd, and as threats in Facebook posts escalated into real-world attacks on the Capitol.”

The book explores Facebook’s failings in allowing extremist propaganda and disinformation to spread on its platforms, reaching millions of its users. The site has long been accused of acting slowly and in a piecemeal way to counter the spread of extremist content, and lacking a proactive strategy on the issue.

A report by the Tech Transparency Project found that Facebook had been one of the main gathering spaces for the the far-right extremists involved in the Capitol insurrection.

The platform’s CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, last year faced criticism for claiming that the disinformation that fueled the riot was mainly spreading on other platforms.

The excerpt from the book indicates that top executives knew that this was likely false.

Facebook in its statement to Insider said that “our teams were vigilant in removing content that violated our policies against inciting violence leading up to January 6th. We were prepared for this and have been more aggressive than any other internet company in combating harmful content, including content that sought to delegitimize the election.”

The spokesperson pointed to measures including banning extremist movements such as QAnon from the platform, and banning Trump for at least two years for his posts during the riot.

Trump and Zuckerberg had an uneasy relationship during Trump’s term, with the site one of the Trump campaign’s key platforms for its propaganda efforts.

Since his ban and departure from office, Trump haslaunched a lawsuit against Facebook and other tech firms, citing his ban as well as alleging wider bias against conservatives.

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‘Oh f–k, how did we miss this?’ An upcoming book reveals new details about the meeting where Mark Zuckerberg learned Russia had infiltrated Facebook

mark zuckerberg facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Washington D.C. on Oct. 23, 2019

Mark Zuckerberg was shocked to learn the Russian government had infiltrated Facebook during the 2016 election.

“Oh f—, how did we miss this?” he said in a December 2016 meeting with Facebook’s top brass, according to an upcoming book about the company, excerpted in Axios.

The Facebook CEO had just been briefed on information that nobody – including the US government – knew at the time, The New York Times’ Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang write in their book, “An Ugly Truth,” which comes out Tuesday.

The book excerpt reveals additional details about what exactly went down when Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg first learned about Russian interference on the platform, one of the company’s biggest scandals. “An Ugly Truth” is based on existing reporting by The New York Times.

Russia’s goal, Facebook’s chief security officer at the time, Alex Stamos, explained to the room of executives was to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

The revelation was a shocking one. The book details that “no one else spoke as Zuckerberg and Sandberg drilled their chief security officer.” The two executives asked why they were being told this now, nine months after Facebook’s security team first spotted Russian activity.

“Yup, Sheryl Sandberg yelled at me,” Stamos wrote in his 2018 account of the discovery for the Washington Post.

According to “An Ugly Truth,” “Stamos felt that he had been trying to sound the alarm on Russia for months.”

“It was well within my remit to investigate foreign activity within the platform,” Stamos said. “And we had appropriately briefed the people in our reporting chain … It became clear after that that it wasn’t enough.”

Frenkel and Kang write that “no one at the company knew the full extent of the Russian election interference,” according to Stamos, and that it could be much worse.

In response to demands made by Zuckerberg, executives then “promised to devote their top engineering talent and resources to investigate what Russia had done on the platform,” according to the excerpt.

The next year, Facebook would testify before Congress, saying that Russia-based operatives published about 80,000 posts between June 2015 and August 2017 – which may have reached as many as 126 million Americans – in an attempt to influence the presidential election.

Facebook’s board later issued a statement that it pushed Zuckerberg and other leaders to “move faster” in tackling Russian election interference on the platform.

“In 2016, we and those in the government and media did not fully recognize the nature and scope of foreign interference in our elections,” said Elana Widmann, a Facebook Company spokesperson. “Since 2017, we have removed over 150 covert influence operations originating in more than 50 counties, and a dedicated investigative team continues to vigilantly protect democracy on our platform both here and abroad.”

The 2017 federal intelligence report accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering “an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.”

The declassified investigation concluded “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” Insider’s Brennan Weiss reported.

Facebook told Insider that the company is different than it was in 2016, applying the lessons learned from the incident in more than 200 elections around the world.

Leading up to the 2020 US presidential election, Facebook took down multiple influence operations coming out of Russia, Iran, China, and within the US. The company said it also removed more than 4.5 billion fake accounts and displayed warnings on 180 million pieces of content debunked by third-party fact-checkers.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Donald Trump was reportedly desperate to gain the approval of Silicon Valley execs soon after the 2016 election: ‘Everybody in this room has to like me’

From left: Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, and Sheryl Sandberg met with President-elect Donald Trump in December 2016 at Trump Tower
From left: Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, and Sheryl Sandberg met with then President-elect Donald Trump in December 2016 at Trump Tower

  • Former President Donald Trump wanted tech executives’ approval, The New York Times reports.
  • Trump told a meeting of tech leaders in 2016 that “everybody in this room has to like me.”
  • Trump ultimately had a strained relationship with several execs throughout his administration.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In December 2016, Donald Trump, then president-elect, invited about a dozen tech leaders for a meeting at Trump Tower in New York.

The group, which included Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Google cofounder Larry Page, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, was recorded by press photographers who captured a row of unhappy-looking tech executives.

But for Trump, it was important to gain the approval of some of the most powerful executives in the world.

“Everybody in this room has to like me,” Trump told the assembled group, according to The New York Times’ Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang, who investigated the relationship between Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and COO, Sandberg, as part of a forthcoming book about Facebook.

Read more: Facebook just changed how it reviews employee performance, and it could be a sign the social-media giant is maturing

While attendees at the meeting put a positive spin on it – Bezos said afterward that the meeting was “very productive” – things had been strained between the tech world and Trump. Bezos had suggested shipping Trump off to space aboard a Blue Origin rocket, Apple had declined to fund the Republican National Convention because of Trump, and, according to The Times, Sandberg was still in shock following Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump and barely spoke at the meeting.

Still, Trump was optimistic about working with Silicon Valley leaders during the meeting, according to The Times.

“You’ll call my people, you’ll call me. It doesn’t make any difference,” he said. “We have no formal chain of command over here.”

A 2016 Times report about the meeting said that Trump called the assembled guests a “truly amazing group of people” and told them that he was “here to help you folks do well.”

But in the years following, Trump’s relationship with many Silicon Valley leaders became increasingly strained. He made Bezos a frequent target and openly feuded with Twitter, and reportedly made his displeasure about some Facebook policies known to Zuckerberg directly. Tech leaders spoke out against Trump’s immigration policies and condemned the siege on Capitol Hill.

Soon after the riots, Silicon Valley delivered the ultimate condemnation of Trump’s policies: locking him out of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, a temporary measure that has been extended indefinitely.

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Mark Zuckerberg knows how bad Facebook’s misinformation problem is because the White House has told him directly

Mark Zuckerberg at Georgetown University
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is facing harsh criticism from President Biden’s White House over vaccine misinformation.

“I’ve told Mark Zuckerberg directly that when we gather groups of people who are not vaccinated, and we ask them, ‘Why aren’t you vaccinated?’ and they tell us things that are wrong, tell us things that are untrue, and we ask them where they’ve heard that. The most common answer is Facebook,” White House chief of staff Ron Klain told Kara Swisher on “Sway,” her New York Times podcast.

“And so we know it has become a giant source of misinformation and disinformation about the vaccines,” Klain added.

The last time the Klain and Zuckerberg spoke, he urged the CEO to “do better” at moderating COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on Facebook.

“His response was he cited the efforts Facebook was undertaking to try to put out good information, and I told him I recognize that Facebook is a source of a lot of good information about vaccines,” Klain said on the podcast. “But it also unfortunately is a source of a lot of bad information about vaccines.”

In a statement to Insider, a Facebook representative said the company has, “removed more than 18 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram that violate our COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation policies, and labeled more than 167 million pieces of COVID-19 content rated false by our network of fact checking partners.”

Facebook has struggled and occasionally outright refused to moderate speech on its platforms.

A Wall Street Journal report from May 2020 revealed that executives, including Zuckerberg, declined to moderate the service even when faced with evidence that its algorithms, “exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness.” And in 2019, the company took a hard stand on fact-checking political ads in the lead up to the tumultuous presidential election.

Klain said he urged Zuckerberg to be extra vigilant on vaccine misinformation given the seriousness of the situation: Nearly 4 million people have died worldwide from COVID so far, according to the World Health Organization.

“I’ll let Mark Zuckerberg speak for himself, he certainly can,” Klain said. “But there is just no question that a lot of misinformation about the vaccines is coming from postings on Facebook. And this is a life or death situation here.”

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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