Nick Denton

Nick Denton: Zuckerberg's Original Idea for Facebook Was Dark Facebook.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is mentioned 10 times in Ben McGrath’s much ballyhooed New Yorker profile on blog impressario Nick Denton. The most interesting mention is in the context of a story about Zuckerberg and Denton serving on a panel together at a News Corp. retreat in Monterey, a fact which in and of itself is kind of ominous:

“I actually like the guy,” he said. “Apparently, his original idea for Facebook was this dark Facebook. Like, the idea was that it was going to be a place for people to bitch about each other, and then it evolved. It was interesting how agnostic he was about which approach to take.”

Hmmm a “Dark Facebook” … Sounds a little like Gawker. Maybe Denton, who recently published “Mark Zuckerberg’s Age of Privacy Is Over,” (which is surprisingly not about the fact that Zuckerberg recently befriended Mike Arrington) is projecting, attempting to meta analyze the concept of web privacy by invading Zuckerberg’s with a paparazzi lens. In any case the piece, which definitely erred on the “dark” side of media coverage, garnered 300,000 + views.

“’Zuckerberg is the Angelina Jolie of the Internet,’ Denton explained, in response to a critic who charged him with aspiring to ‘no higher principles whatsoever,’ noting with particular disapproval the exposure of the girlfriend. ‘His lovers, friends, and acquaintances—like those of any other celebrity—are caught up in the vortex,’ Denton went on. ‘He has to make a choice; and they have to make a choice. And none of the choices—retreat from the public eye, abandonment of friendship—are palatable.’”

A “Dark Facebook” where perhaps people could finally get the “Dislike” button they’ve been clamoring for is an interesting concept to ponder, and Denton describes Zuckerberg as “agnostic” as to whether or not to go over to the dark side, almost as if he had flipped a coin on which one he should follow through with. Denton, who is described as hiding under a cloak of his own autism in the New Yorker piece, attributes Zuckerberg’s matter-of-fact demeanor to a condition of Asperger’s.

“But for people like Zuckerberg it’s more like Asperger’s, that they lack something essential and don’t have an instinctual understanding of human behavior. That’s why he ended up creating algorithms to explain it.”

We’ve now seen multiple press points and an entire movie highlighting the supposed “dark side” of Facebook, perhaps Denton’s anecdote is another sign that there is actually a strand of dark in the social network’s DNA?

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