"My goal for this next decade isn't to be liked, but to be understood," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors during an earnings call on Jan. 29. "In order to be trusted, people need to know what you stand for."
Philanthropist George Soros thinks he knows what Zuck stands for: an unholy alliance with Donald Trump.
In the Jan. 31 New York Times, Soros wrote that Zuckerberg stands for the re-election of Trump in return for the president's support of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Section 230 is a venerable "stay out of jail card" for Facebook. It shields it and all social media platforms from legal liability for the misinformation, disinformation and fake news they run on their sites. It's the old: "Don't blame me."
Soros sees "an informal mutual assistance" pact between Trump and Facebook. "I believe that Mr. Trump and Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, realize that their interests are aligned — the president’s in winning elections, Mr. Zuckerberg’s in making money," he wrote. Nicely put, George.
The president sings the praises of Zuck, which must be a tough task for the self-centered one. During the Davos World Economic Forum, Trump said he saw no need for Facebook to fact-check political ads.
Duh! Team Trump sure runs some doozies. "I'd rather have him just do whatever he is doing," said Trump. "He's done a hell of a job, when you think of it."
Wall Street though is not as gung-ho. During the analyst call on Jan. 29, they bemoaned Facebook's slowing growth.
To be fair to Facebook, it's pretty hard to keep on the pace when you have a user base of 2.9B, accessing Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp.
Brian Wieser, global head of business intelligence at GroupM, said growth has to "decelerate" at Facebook simply because "the market can only be too big."
Zuckerberg needs to be careful because his alliance with Trump may turn out to bite Facebook.
There will be an anti-Facebook revolt in the US if the 2020 presidential election turns out to be a repeat of the 2016 one, where Vladimir Putin's trolls put Trump in the White House with a big assist from Facebook.
Kudos to Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who wants the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to investigate Saudi Arabia's involvement in the hacking of the phone of Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.
The Senator believes the Saudis may have been out to silence further reporting on the torture, murder and dismemberment of dissident and WaPo contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
The Democratic politico fears Khashoggi's murder may have been part of a broader campaign to "intimidate and silence opponents of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
The United Nations on Jan. 22 released a report with "medium to high confidence" that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a dear friend of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, delivered the spyware via WhatsApp (Hello Facebook) to Bezos' phone. Other critics of the Kingdom received the same malicious code.
Murphy is the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism.
He also wants to know if any US government officials or citizens were involved in the sale or deployment of the software to Saudi Arabia.