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Working at Facebook Sounds Like Joining a Cult (gizmodo.com) 173

Vanity Fair has run some excerpts from an upcoming book by a former employee that gives insight on how things work at the social network. The chapter, among other things, details Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's actions when Google launched its own social networking service Google Plus. The extract finds Zuckerberg's behaviour so intense that it calls it "bordered on the psychopathic." It reads: [...] hit Facebook like a bomb. Google Plus was the great enemy's sally into our own hemisphere, and it gripped Zuck like nothing else. He declared "Lockdown," the first and only one during my time there. As was duly explained to the more recent employees, Lockdown was a state of war that dated to Facebook's earliest days, when no one could leave the building while the company confronted some threat, either competitive or technical.â [...] Rounding off another beaded string of platitudes, he changed gears and erupted with a burst of rhetoric referencing one of the ancient classics he had studied at Harvard and before. "You know, one of my favorite Roman orators ended every speech with the phrase Carthago delenda est. 'Carthage must be destroyed.' For some reason I think of that now."
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Working at Facebook Sounds Like Joining a Cult

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    More like joining a Skynet-Workcamp...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I like how through the whole summary, the elephant in the room is that Google is a much bigger, more evil cult.

    • by JustOK ( 667959 )
      what if they're both controlled by the same person?
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        what if they're both controlled by the same person?

        Maybe they are both controlled by Emmanuel Goldstein [wikipedia.org].

      • They are not. Actually, Ballmer owns a 2% stake in FB and a precondition for his investment was veto rights on FB partnering with Google on anything he wishes to veto. It's also why MS doesn't compete with FB (the only software market which MS does not try to overtake... because FB plays ball with MS).
        • It's also why MS doesn't compete with FB (the only software market which MS does not try to overtake... because FB plays ball with MS).

          Seriously?

          Microsoft enters markets in which it believes it can make money. Lot of money. Microsoft also enters markets where it believes it can win. Every single hair-brained scheme they tried under Ballmer's reign to capture niche retail and consumer markets ended badly. Today, Microsoft is into the big enterprise systems where they can win, so long as they play the long game. For example, originally SharePoint was a bit of a joke. Today, it's almost mission critical. Dynamics CRM was a toy, today i

          • by Gussington ( 4512999 ) on Monday June 06, 2016 @12:52AM (#52257237)

            Facebook is safe because they are the 100lb gorilla

            A 100lb gorilla is a very small gorilla....

          • Microsoft enters markets in which it believes it can make money.

            Once again, Ballmer (the CEO of MS at the time) bought 2% of Facebook with his own money. Do you think there are not strings attached there? That's not 2% of Ballmer's money. That's 2% of Facebook... which is significantly more than 2% of Ballmer's money. It's not Microsoft which owns this stake. It's Ballmer himself.

            Every single hair-brained scheme they tried under Ballmer's reign to capture niche retail and consumer markets ended badly.

            What? XBox has quite a following. I am not enough of a gamer to know the details of each platform, but it's certain one of the main players in that market.

            No, my friend, the Ballmer era Microsoft wanted it all and ended up stalling the company for years.

            No, Ballmer era Microsoft was l

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Working for any large company is like joining a cult. Try working for nike sometime...

  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @01:42PM (#52254395)
    A slashdot summery of a Gizmodo summery of a Vanity Fair article? Is the source really that are to link to when it is the first line of the Gizmodo summery? http://www.vanityfair.com/news... [vanityfair.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 05, 2016 @02:20PM (#52254603)

      It's "summary".

      But you're right. I was kind of upset when I got halfway through the article and realized it's nothing about a cult-like environment at Facebook. It's about the showdown between Facebook and Google Plus. Anything cult-like about Facebook gets a little bit of mention in passing and it sticks out as kind of awkward.

      And then we find out it's just a selection from an upcoming book. It's not a stand-alone article, at all, and that probably explains its bewildering constant change of tone.

      The headline should have read something more along the lines of "Zuckerberg's weird behaviour gets strong mention in this promotional article trying hard to sell an upcoming book about Silicon Valley culture in general." Which would have instantly bored the piss out of anybody and nobody would have wanted to read it.

      Maybe whoever posted it works for Vanity Fair or the book's publisher, or something?

      • It's about the showdown between Facebook and Google Plus.

        It's about the showdown between psycho Zuck and social misfit Larry.

        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

          If anything, it's mostly about the almost unreadable hyperbole and purple prose of a disgruntled former Facebook employee who seems to hate everyone.

          • Not much different from the Zuck then - except he only hates Google +. The people who own large companies are susceptible to thinking that because they have enough money to murder people and get away with it - that they are somehow especially insightful and not unlike great historical figures. They are not, they are filthy rich and should display some humility if they are not to be mocked as philistines.

            • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

              that they are somehow especially insightful and not unlike great historical figures

              Sadly, having money and power is pretty much the best way to insert yourself into the history books.

              They are not, they are filthy rich and should display some humility if they are not to be mocked as philistines.

              Eh, kind of losing you there. Are you trying to claim that Mark Zuckerberg is uncircumcised? I'm pretty sure based on his heritage that's not true.

      • It's "summary".

        So you're saying it's not like an early Meg Ryan or a more recent and artsy Zooey Deschanel movie?

    • by Desler ( 1608317 )

      At least it wasn't a Slashdot wintery.

    • How do you misspell summary 5 times in the same post?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't sound much like my idea of a cult. More like a business run by a spoiled brat. What are the supposedly cult-like aspects?

    • Whether the boss is a spoiled brat that needs a spanking, the cult leader is one or the god is one, what exactly is the difference?

  • ... they need a union.

  • Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by no-body ( 127863 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @01:46PM (#52254429)

    Sociopaths manipulate in various ways:

    intimidation, anger, suppression, force, charming, acting emphatically.

    Many are admired or shunned and often failed to be recognized as such.

     

    • Sociopaths manipulate in various ways:
      intimidation, anger, suppression, force, charming, acting emphatically.
      Many are admired or shunned and often failed to be recognized as such.

      Some run for President...

      • ...and some win.

      • by no-body ( 127863 )

        Some run for President...

        Or become dictators, charlatans - but as always, it needs two to tangle, one cannot exist without the other.

        Monkeys get away with cheating within their community , all seems to be an old old habit.

  • Oh please! It's a requirement for the job. It is the dominant trait of the business world.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 05, 2016 @01:53PM (#52254463)

    "Carthago delenda est."? Why even revert to Latin if you don't even know your quotes? Where is this from, Asterix? I mean, Cato the Elder's stock ending was famous enough that its start "Ceterum censeo" is almost better known than the rest: "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam." Without the "Ceterum censeo", a Classic Latin speaker would drop the redundant "est" anyway and just state "Delenda Carthago.". Actually, I think the latter is the Asterix version so Goscinny still beats Zuckerberg, Harvard be damned.

    • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @02:14PM (#52254577)

      It's good PR to say he studied Latin and the Classics. It's not such good PR to say he was too busy with FriendFace to actually learn anything from those classes.

      • I did two years of Latin in HS. I learned that studying dead languages was a waste of time, that's about it. Some of that useless trivia is still using up valuable memory.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:14PM (#52254913)

          If you think the aim of studying the classics is to learn Latin then you're an idiot.

          But then anyone who argues in terms of humans "using up valuable memory" is an idiot.

          • Well, he didn't say he learned the classics to learn Latin, he explicitly said, "studying dead languages". When I went to high school, they offered latin as a language (along with spanish, french, and german), it wasn't a literature class. Though I disagree with his assessment of latin's modern value, you've actually changed his argument.
            I also don't believe that human memory is infinite, its probably more like a huge FIFO stack (especially at my age).. but he should be able to push that old stuff out wi
            • Get a little older. New memories definitely don't push out old ones.

              'The Classics' are a obsolete body of knowledge. They were used to separate the rich from the not rich, but are now used to separate those stuck in the past from those living in the present. It's a narrative that tells you more about the people clinging to them than anything else. Unless you are studying why the 18th century was so fucked up, there is no reason to care.

    • While we're on the subject Carthage, it's worth noting that the history of the city did not end with the last Punic war... 200 years later Carthage had been rebuilt by the Romans and had a population of half a million, second only to Rome itself in the western empire. Carthage eventually evolved into Tunis, of which the archeological site is a suburb. So that "sowing to salt" thing makes a great sound bite, but it was hardly permanent.

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @05:14PM (#52255513)

      Quoting Latin is a bit like riding a unicycle. It might impress if you can pull it off, even though everyone will wonder why the hell you do it, but if you fuck it up, everyone will just laugh at you.

    • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @06:45PM (#52255845)

      "Carthago delenda est."? Why even revert to Latin if you don't even know your quotes? Where is this from, Asterix? I mean, Cato the Elder's stock ending was famous enough that its start "Ceterum censeo" is almost better known than the rest: "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam."

      Before you go on a rant about how someone else misuses an ancient language, you might bother to make sure you know what you're talking about.

      As even the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] explains, the phrase was actually never quoted in an ancient source directly in the TWO forms it is generally quoted in today. (If you want to see many of the various paraphrases of the form actually found in ancient sources, Wikipedia has some of them.) One form being your longer indirect speech version, and the other generally being "Carthago delenda est."

      This isn't an "Asterix" version -- it's a well-known version of the phrase that has been commonly cited by English-language scholars for the past couple centuries. Just to show you how long people have been quoting the phrase as "Carthago delenda est" -- The form was common enough to even be parodied in the well-known account [harvardmagazine.com] of a Harvard professor opposed to academic music study in the 1870s who supposedly ended faculty meetings after the first appointment of a music professor with the phrase "musica delenda est" (i.e., music must be destroyed).

      It's true in other modern languages that the "ceterum censeo..." version is perhaps more common, but English-language scholars very frequently cite the phrase as "Carthago delenda est," which is as close to the actual ancient quotations as any.

      Without the "Ceterum censeo", a Classic Latin speaker would drop the redundant "est" anyway and just state "Delenda Carthago."

      Actually, wrong again. "Delenda" is a gerundive and by itself is only a passive participle. Saying "Delenda Carthago" could mean something more like "Carthage is to be destroyed." Adding a form of the Latin verb esse (i.e., to be) turns the construction from a naked gerundive into a passive periphrastic [wikipedia.org], which connotes an element of necessity. That is, it alters the meaning from "Carthage [is] to be destroyed" to "Carthage MUST be destroyed."

      The gerundive itself can carry that connotation a bit informally, but if Cato were speaking formally and wanted to emphasize his feeling that it MUST happen, he likely would have added a form of "esse" (as you can see is found in multiple actual quotations and references from Latin sources as seen in the Wikipedia article).

      Actually, I think the latter is the Asterix version so Goscinny still beats Zuckerberg, Harvard be damned.

      Yes, I believe Asterix actually uses the form you mention, which is abbreviated and less formal. And I really can't believe I'm actually defending Zuckerberg here... but his version was perfectly acceptable.

  • Unemployment rate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Livius ( 318358 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @02:01PM (#52254507)

    Unemployment is so high that workers feel powerless and afraid and employers can abuse their power.

    Duh....

    • The unemployment rate for people working at Facebook is high? The mostly-computer-programmers-in-Silicon-Valley employment rate? Not buying it.
      • by Livius ( 318358 )

        Facebook is not the only workplace where this is happening.

        Or if you want to think specifically in terms of Facebook, consider the number of people who want to work at Facebook versus the number who actually do.

    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      Hardly insightful, and in fact a baldfaced lie. Here's what you get when you google "bay area unemployment rate"
      The unemployment rate in San Mateo County was 3 percent, while the unemployment rate in Solano County was 5.6 percent in February. Marin County recorded the second lowest rate among Bay Area counties at 3.2 percent, followed by San Francisco County at 3.3 percent, employment officials said.

      And for tech workers it's even better. http://www.bizjournals.com/san... [bizjournals.com]

      If anyone pulled "lockdown" on me,

      • Facebook likes to hire young, techie, inexperienced, and fairly self-assured people. I mean remember this is the company run by a guy who said that anyone over 30 is "out of ideas", a stance which, shocker here, changed when he got near 30. They hire the kind of people who buy in to their cult bullshit, who want to work at Facebook because "It is the best, most important place EVAR," and will deal with this kind of shit because they don't see it as a problem, or even that strange.

        It isn't a case of some evi

  • by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @02:17PM (#52254593)

    Facebook is being led by a leader who promptly reacts to challenges facing his company. If this was supposed to paint Facebook/Zuck in some sort of negative light... it managed to do the completely opposite.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Facebook is being led by a leader who promptly reacts to challenges facing his company. If this was supposed to paint Facebook/Zuck in some sort of negative light... it managed to do the completely opposite.

      It sounds like neither a cult nor your theory of bold leadership. It sounds like Zuck panicked based on the assumption that Google would likely eat his lunch. Plus failed, but it's not clear to me that FB's mad scrambling had anything to do with it.

      Google shipped Plus in 100 days. Google's employees were off enjoying their weekends while Zuck had his employees chained to their desks.

      Zuck got punked.

      • You either didn't read the article or don't remember the situation very well.

        At the time, Google was pushing Plus REALLY HARD. It was even going to be integrated into *search results*, by ranking Plus results higher! If you do not think that had a viable chance at de-throning Facebook at the time, you are nuts.

        Did the efforts of Facebook have anything to do with it? Well why not? If Facebook was suddenly adding new features and working better than ever before, why could that not have prevented a lot of

    • I wouldn't want to work those insane kinds of hours anymore, but there was a long period of time where I did and enjoyed it a lot - as well as greatly advancing my technical skills. Nothing like cramming years of practical experience into months...

      After reading the whole article, I also had more respect for Facebook and Zuckerberg than I did before.

    • by Empiric ( 675968 )

      "Destruction of the enemy" is a fools errand intended simply to get people to sacrifice their interests for the "leader's" benefit.

      Legitimate response to challenges is producing better and more appealing products. Offering better terms and incentives to the people doing that for you, is the legitimate way to do that. Painting the "others" attempting to do the same as the enemy adds nothing of value.

  • Lockdown! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Hoodie hoods up! Drawstrings to maximum tightness! Engage!

  • My response? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @03:28PM (#52254967)
    As was duly explained to the more recent employees, Lockdown was a state of war that dated to Facebook’s earliest days, when no one could leave the building while the company confronted some threat, either competitive or technical.

    "I can't leave the building? Well, here's my badge. Fuck you."
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You wouldn't even need to do that. People would just roll their eyes and leave at their normal time. I'm assuming that in the "earliest days" there were only four or five of them who agreed (possibly partly due to charm and/or strength of personality from the boss, plus being/feeling personally invested in the project) that they'd all stay on and solve the problem. I don't believe for a moment that someone tried this as an order in the company the size it is now (or was when Google+ came out). They'd be a l

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      "911? I am being illegally detained at ADDRESS under threat of harm if I try to leave. Please help."

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @07:07PM (#52255961)

        "911? I am being illegally detained at ADDRESS under threat of harm if I try to leave. Please help."

        Better yet -- "I'm being illegally detained under threat of harm if I try to leave. The person threatening me is babbling incoherently... though I am told by one of my colleagues that he may be speaking in an ancient tongue with almost religious fervor, quoting something about wanting to destroy his enemies and an entire city. I'm really scared. Please send help!"

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      "I can't leave the building? Well, here's my badge, I'm off to work for the guys you're so threatened by and that don't treat their staff like dicks. I'm also taking all my knowledge of your solutions to the threat with me. Fuck you."

      FTFY.

  • and call it Zuckertown.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @04:39PM (#52255279)

    Do you actually have to JOIN the cult?

    Or can you issue a SELECT COALESCE and use a subquery instead?

  • "Lockdown" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sydin ( 2598829 ) on Sunday June 05, 2016 @04:48PM (#52255347)
    How about "get fucked." No job is worth having to suffer somebody who feels they have the right to exercise that kind of absolute authority over you. Even if there weren't dozens of other tech companies in the bay area ready to gobble up talent - and there are - that would be immediate cause for walking, no question.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Good thing you didn't work in mission control during Apollo 13.

      • by n7ytd ( 230708 )

        Let's gauge my level of commitment to "burning the midnight oil" in the two scenarios:

        • The lives of my coworkers are in danger and we have 4 days to get them home
        • The boss is feeling threatened because a competitor has had the audacity to develop an ad- and cat video-delivery platform that might compete with our own.
  • At the time I used facebook a lot, and I didn't notice any changes. I don't use it so much anymore, but when I log in - I still don't see anything different.

    Maybe because I block ads?

  • Zuck's immortal words: "young people are just smarter."
  • FB wants to be the only web site you visit. Rather like a cult that wants to control who you talk to, what you read, etc. I can only imagine how much worse it is when actually working within that organization.

  • A lot of it about - check out the utter weirdness with the Goldman Sachs exec parties, the Enron stuff and plenty of others. Prancing around to the strange whims of their bosses like a fantasy of French Nobility before they got the chop. They think they OWN people as seen how they dictate social life outside of work hours.
  • I read this book, what, 17 years ago? https://www.amazon.ca/Corporat... [amazon.ca]
  • We're criticizing a guy that made a big company and the 800 Lbs gorilla in the room says it wants to do what you do? Possibly replace you? He had probably been approached for a buyout before.

    I think anyone would be very concerned (i.e. shit their pants). He faced a very real threat. He managed to survive. I think he had the right reaction, do whatever he could to stop it.

    Who knows, if Google bought them out, they could be one of the many projects in the Google graveyard by now.

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