Wired's amazing Mark Zuckerberg cover looks extra prescient all of a sudden

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Credit: Wired, Condé Nast

How's your week going?

If you happen to be Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the answer might just be "Terrible, leave me alone." As Angela Doland notes in this morning's Ad Age Wake-Up Call, disgust with Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal has reached such a peak that WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who sold his app to Facebook for $19 billion in 2014, just joined the #deleteFacebook movement. And as The Daily Beast reports, "Zuckerberg declined to face his employees on Tuesday to explain the company's role in a widening international scandal over the 2016 election," staying away from an internal town hall "held to brief and reassure employees" about the Cambridge Analytica mess.

How the hell did we get here? Wired has an extended answer in its March cover story. The issue has been out for a few weeks (you have until next Monday, when copies of the April issue start to arrive, to grab a copy at the newsstand), but right now the cover image looks extra prescient, with its deeply evocative photo-illustration of the man who is suddenly the world's most embattled major CEO. The story, by Wired Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Thompson and Contributing Editor Fred Vogelstein, is headlined "Inside the Two Years That Shook Facebook—and the World" (subhead: "How a confused, defensive social media giant steered itself into a disaster, and how Mark Zuckerberg is trying to fix it all") and sets the stage for the social network's current drama.

At one point in the piece, Thompson and Vogelstein write,

The fate that Facebook really cares about, however, is its own. It was built on the power of network effects: You joined because everyone else was joining. But network effects can be just as powerful in driving people off a platform. Zuckerberg understands this viscerally. After all, he helped create those problems for MySpace a decade ago and is arguably doing the same to Snap today. Zuckerberg has avoided that fate, in part, because he has proven brilliant at co-opting his biggest threats. When social media started becoming driven by images, he bought Instagram. When messaging took off, he bought WhatsApp. When Snapchat became a threat, he copied it.

The issue now, of course, is how Zuckerberg can cope with a threat—like the Cambridge Analytica scandal—that's impossible to co-opt. Read the full story here.

P.S. "What Happened to Zuckerberg? Here's How Our March 2018 Cover Was Created."

UPDATE: Mark Zuckerberg has broken his silence. Read this report from Ad Age's Garett Sloane for details on what he had to say.

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