Sometimes you do something on Facebook — comment, post a link, "like" a status message — and it gets totally misinterpreted. And amid the backlash from family, friends, and strangers, you just have to be, like, "Facebook is fucked up, not my problem." Mark Zuckerberg doesn't have that luxury.
When dozens of people misinterpreted his "like" on a post about Mitt Romney as an endorsement of the Republican presidential candidate, the Facebook CEO came face to face with a design flaw in software he is ultimately responsible for.
Last night, Zuckerberg "liked" a post by Slate writer Farhad Manjoo. Above a link and thumbnail from Romney's website, Manjoo had written, "just try looking at the Romney logo without seeing the word MONEY." A mild observation on graphic design and Romney's wealth. Here's what it looked like to Zuckerberg:
But when Zuckerberg's "like" was broadcast to his friends and/or subscribers, Manjoo's commentary was stripped out by Facebook's software. Only the Romney link and thumbnail, from the official campaign website, remained. Next to them — right next to them! — was a picture of Zuckerberg's face, a thumbs up icon, and the message "Mark Zuckerberg approved this message." Or rather "Mark Zuckerber likes this," but the difference between those two statements, at a glance, is minimal:
Cue political outrage. Some highlights from the comments:
zuckerberg, you suck. So your a good little Harvard guy who sides with other harvard white ass republicans.
don't want to say Mark Zuckerberg is a loser... but this is probably the biggest brain fart since he created facemash
of course Zuckerberg likes Romney. Romney's a rich asshole looking out for other richies, like Zuckerberg
Money + Money = Money..........lol......dislike Mark!!!
his is ridiculous! Mark should either support Obama or just keep his mouth shut!!
Mark is just upset because his company got a good kick in the butt for screwing up royally in regard to users' privacy settings. It's all behind you now Mark. There's no need to take that on the Obama Administration.
Shouldn't you be apolitical, Mark?
Zuck, the wealthy should abstain from endorsements of anyone (especially another wealthy person) as president. It only harms you in the long run.
Hell no..... Obama ... Zuck....
There were also conspiracy theories:
He probably only does it for the lulz from all the comments that are sure to follow.
When I saw that Mark Zuckerberg liked this status it made me question the preconceived notions I have of him being a liberal progressive. Then I realized that this is kind of brilliant as if Romney wins, then the Republican Party's chances are pretty much doomed.
Zuckerberg must have been hacked, or he's changing the spelling of his surname to Suckerberg
And then, since this is the internet, there were also a handful of comments trying to convert Zuckerberg over to Ron Paul.
All because someone designing a Facebook template decided to omit a single field of information from a particular view. Facebook is proud of its hacker culture, in which the ability to quickly push out new code is a big virtue. Zuckerberg even included a dissertation on the "Hacker Way" in Facebook pre-IPO S-1 filing with the SEC. Rival Google, in contrast, operates more slowly, like a plodding research wing in an academic computer science program, and has been caught flat-footed.
Yet clearly Facebook could stand to slow down. To safeguard privacy, first and foremost. But there should also be more user interface testing to catch the sort of bug - and there's really no other word for it - that Zuckerberg encountered. Maybe in his capacity as a falsely derided user Zuckerberg could start one of those protest pages. He could call it "FB!!! Stop stripping crucial contexT out of My Likes! And also make a Dislike button!1!!" Rest assured we'll be counted in both the "like this" and "talk about this" sections of any such page, Mark. Fight the power.