Joking Or Not, Official Or Not, Facebook Needs To Grow Up

It’s sort of funny when Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg takes her frustration out on a club bouncer by saying (it has now been removed) it would be “a huge bummer if their facebook pages “accidentally” went down.” But it’s also terrible messaging for the fast growing company. Randi is founder Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, an executive of the company and also their unofficial spokesperson. Her statements carry weight, can be intimidating and considered an abuse of power.

It’s also a recurring theme with Zuckerberg, who was in the news a couple of weeks ago for facilitating a minor but annoying violation of the Facebook terms of service to help out a friend.

I’m not trying to paint this picture as something that it isn’t. Randi was clearly joking around and venting frustration. But it illustrates an underlying way of thinking that needs to be nipped in the bud. Facebook has long referred to user data as “our data,” ignoring the fact that in reality it’s the users’ data, not theirs to do with as they please. Likewise, Facebook is a community of people. This community will accept a benign dictatorship. Even a police state, perhaps, if the benefits are clear. But too many vendettas and shows of favoritism and that community could turn.

I don’t believe that Randi would actually take action at Facebook to get back at this bouncer. But the message this sends is terrible, and it shows that she may not fully understand the weight of her words. It’s time for Facebook’s executive team to step things up a notch and realize that as fun as Facebook is, this isn’t a game.

We’ve reached out to both Randi and Facebook for comment.

Update: Facebook’s official statement is “This comment was clearly intended as a light-hearted joke. It goes without saying that there is no intended consequence beyond voicing a personal opinion.” The twitter message has been removed.