Former Facebook Exec: "Zuckerberg Sitting on More Data About What People Want to Do Online"

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Former Facebook Exec. Alex Stamos said that Mark Zuckerbers is sitting on more data about what people want to do while on the site itself / Photo by: Web Summit via Wikimedia Commons

 

Former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos explained the way CEO Mark Zuckerberg is able to make consistent decisions that are only understandable with the benefit of hindsight. Stamos was at the Washington Post' technology and policy conference on Wednesday.

He said Zuckerberg is "sitting on more data about what people want to do online than anyone else in the world." The 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion and the 2012 purchase of Instagram for $1 billion are the bets that many people see as "insane" but has actually turned out to be "prophetic" since the CEO "knows the direction the world is going," Stamos said.

According to CNBC, the buyouts have turned out to be highly profitable for the social network. Instagram touts over a billion active users every month and is deemed popular among younger social media users who are moving away from the core app. Meanwhile, WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion users and will likely develop the basis of Facebook's new focus on private messaging, which Zuckerberg announced earlier this month.

However, Stamos noted that all those data may not save the CEO from his current bind. Facebook and other tech giants are struggling with a thorny set of issues that involve balancing out the privacy and safety of users. He said it's typically challenging to achieve both feats, especially for a company as large as Facebook's scale.

The former Facebook security chief also discussed the importance of the tech industry working together toward meeting common goals instead of going head to head against one another.

"People at Morgan Stanley and Goldman (Sachs) hate each other but they understand their boats rise at the same time,” Stamos said. “In the (Silicon) Valley, you have personality driven conflict...and if CEOs (in tech) snipe at others in keynotes...it’s unlikely for them to work well.”

He added that if companies don't stop slinging mud at one another, they won't be able to resolve crucial issues, such as content moderation, regulation of political ads, and cybersecurity.