Don’t Hassle The Zuck

Recently,  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave what he thought would be a simple interview with two of today’s most prominent tech journalists.  It wasn’t so simple.

[Full video of Zuckerberg’s interview with D8]

Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher questioned the 26-year-old entrepreneur as if he was a suspected serial killer with ties to the mafia running for president, resulting in an uneasy, odd, and downright painful display of what the interviewers seemed to think were tough, hard-hitting questions.  And yet, at the end of the day, most folks seem to be criticizing Zuckerberg for seeming nervous, and not answering the questions directly.

What a joke.

In the first place, it is absolutely inexcusable to be excessively critical of any aspect of Facebook be it privacy issues, or….umm…oh yeah….that’s the only issue people have come up with so far…

Why can’t you be excessively critical?  As I’ve said before: Because Facebook is free, voluntary, and asks absolutely nothing of you.  It repeats only what you say.  It publishes only what you submit.  If you don’t like it, quit.

This doesn’t mean we can’t have qualms with layout, controls, design, privacy, or whatever.  That’s just being critical.  But to grill the company’s CEO on privacy in front of a huge audience, and broadcast it live, online to millions of viewers…well…that’s taking it a bit too far.  I’m just not very interested in what Mark has to say on the subject.  I don’t care how popular Facebook is – it’s free, and totally voluntary.  You lose nothing by not having a Facebook account.  It’s a novelty.

It’s like inviting the developers of Farmville onto CNN and asking them if they think they’re negatively contributing to the cultural development of our species by producing an ultimately pointless game that retracts time and energy from causes like world hunger, poverty, and genocide.

I think the folks at Farmville would have a tough time answering questions like that too, and come back with a response akin to ‘Umm…we just make games…’  Meanwhile the media would analyze the interview, calling the developers poorly spoken, young, arrogant pin heads with no sense of worldliness or culture.

And then there’s the hoodie incident.
Here’s what happened: Mark got nervous and sweaty as he realized just how serious the interviewers were becoming with their questions, and when he went to remove his hoodie, Kara noticed the fancy insignia on the inside, awkwardly snatched it up and showed it to the crowd. Here’s the graphic:

As Mark attempted to explain that it was a company hoodie, and a company logo outlining Facebook’s mission, Kara bawked that it seemed “cultish” and “looked as if it belonged to the Illuminati“.  Meanwhile, Zuckerberg seemed to hide his embarrassed face, and the crowd pandered to Kara’s loud, ignorant, stupid comments.

And THAT’S what made the tech news the few days following the event… not that Kara Swisher is an obnoxious, self-indulgent, unfunny no..what made news is that Zuckerberg choked the interview by sweating so much that he had to take off his hoodie.  And not only that, by accidentally revealing the symbol he has revealed a coded master plan of Facebook and we all need to be afraid of it because it’s going to kill us.  The internet became flooded with curt, ignorant analysis like this one.

Kara Swisher seems to have the professionalism, and humility of a high school girl on prom night.

But there’s more.

When Zuckerberg remarked that he was getting warm and he may need to lose the hoodie Kara also told him that there were women in the audience who would love for him to do that.

Could we be any less professional?

This is why Zuck doesn’t do these big interviews…people take him way too seriously.  He’s a laid back college kid who had an idea.  400 million people joined his free, voluntary club, and now 40 thousand or so (that’s 1% for those that are keeping score) are telling him his free, voluntary club sucks.  And here we have two of the country’s most prominent tech journalists trying to stick up for that 1%, really just reducing themselves to the level the loud, ignorant 1% of end users that any smart CEO would promptly ignore.

How would you react?

Swiftly?  Quickly?  Probably not.

He doesn’t owe anyone anything.

Interviewing Mark Zuckerberg with questions on privacy is a bigger waste of time than Ringo Starr’s song writing.