Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, recently delivered a speech at Georgetown University about the corporate policy on political ads. This was live-streamed on Facebook and was filled with gushing, overwhelmingly positive comments about Zuckerberg. These comments related to the CEO as a person rather than being related to the content of the speech, e.g., “ You’re looking very handsome and dashing” and “Thanks a lot for this wonderful platform called FACEBOOK”.
There was a lot of suspicion directed towards the almost universally positive comments of Mark Zuckerberg. Detractors thought these were either spam or bots or an astroturfing campaign organised by Facebook’s PR team. Could there be so many people who love Mark Zuckerberg?
The author sought to speak to the people behind some of the most enthusiastic live-stream comments and discovered many genuine Mark Zuckerberg fans through sharing authentic conversations.
Read the full article on The Atlantic: The People Who Really, Really Love Mark Zuckerberg
Why has Mark Zuckerberg amassed such a cult following? Some of his fans are drawn to him because of the social platform that he has created that has changed the way that we connect with one another. Others are attracted to his simple wardrobe and demeanour despite his wealth.
Witnessing the fans’ reaction to Zuckerberg shows that he is not merely the spokesperson or head figure of a large tech corporation but a celebrity. The author claims that fandom is the primary organising principle of the social web at this point and Zuckerberg has gained massive star power through the social phenomenon that he founded.
Some critics may argue that Facebook has become more than a tech firm or social media platform and has evolved to be like a proto-world government. While Facebook helps us to keep track of one another’s birthdays, they also help to ensure the integrity of elections in different countries worldwide. Clearly, there is tremendous power that is being wielded by the tech behemoth and this power accounts for some of the celebrity status of Zuckerberg.
Questions for further personal evaluation:
- What are your thoughts about Mark Zuckerberg having such an ardent fan base?
- What are some of the people and organisations that you consider yourself a fan? What makes you a fan?
- ‘astroturfing’: organised activity that is intended to create a false impression of a widespread, spontaneously arising grassroots movement which is in reality initiated and controlled by a corporation or concealed group
- ‘proto-world government’: quasi-government, a political entity that does not represent a fully institutionalised or autonomous sovereign government/ state