Facebook is arguably one of the biggest stories of our generation: it has forever changed how people communicate with each other and is reaching new users at record speeds.
The latest frenzy surrounding the social media company is a new book entitled The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network, in which former Facebook employee Katherine Losse gives readers the inside scoop on what life was like at the world's hottest tech-startup during its earliest days.
Losse joined Facebook in 2005 as the company's 51st employee. She began as a customer service representative helping to answer user questions and complaints. When Losse left Facebook in 2010, she had risen in the ranks to become the personal speechwriter for Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, sitting right outside his office.
Facebook's "Frat House" Culture
As one of the first women employees at Facebook, she compares life at the company to a "frat house" environment and says Zuckerberg's business card read, "I'm CEO, Bitch."
In the beginning, female Facebook employees were treated like objects in typical Silicon Valley (boys club) fashion according to Losse. The walls were covered in graffiti of scantily clad women with proportions similar to those seen in adult video games or cartoons. Women were also told by Zuckerberg to wear t-shirts with his face on the front to essentially declare their allegiance to him, according to Losse.
Emblematic of how the first Facebook engineers perceived women was a feature called Judgebox, which allowed users to rate women's profile pictures similar to that of Facemash which Zuckerberg had created at Harvard.
Losse also writes about one female employee being told by another male employee: I want to "put my teeth in your ass."
Upon the arrival of COO Sheryl Sandberg in 2008, that juvenile behavior came to a halt. She really wanted to "clean house" of that type of behavior, says Losse in the accompanying interview with The Daily Ticker.
Facebook's Strategy: It's Easier to Ask for Forgiveness Vs. Permission
Zuckerberg has created a monster of a company that continues to shape our lives daily, whether we like it or not.
For Facebook users, the company often changes its features with what may seem like little to no notice. For example, the company recently made a switch to default all personal user emails to their Facebook email accounts and it launched a controversial feature called "Find Friends Nearby," which has since been retracted after an outcry of privacy concerns. (See: Facebook Strategy: Easier to Ask for Users' Forgiveness vs. Permission)
In an email to The Daily Ticker, Facebook says of the email switch:
"As we announced back in April, we've been updating addresses on Facebook to make them consistent across our site.
In addition to everyone receiving an address, we're also rolling out a new setting that gives people the choice to decide which addresses they want to show on their timelines.
Ever since the launch of timeline, people have had the ability to control what posts they want to show or hide on their own timelines, and we're extending that to other information they post, starting with the Facebook address."
In regard to "Find Friends Nearby" Facebook says:
"This wasn't a formal release - this was something that a few engineers were testing. With all tests, some get released as full products, others don't. Nothing more to say on this for now — we'll communicate to everyone when there is something to say."
In her book, Losse shows that this strategy is nothing new. She describes an early feature called "Dark Profiles" which essentially created a shadow profile for people who were tagged in photos but did not actually have a Facebook account. Non-Facebook users essentially had an account whether they liked it or not.
"It was a utility for the user when they came to join Facebook" because all those photos would be attached to their profile, Losse says. "But it is just a sign of what is happening with the internet which is that social media is sort of graphing the world and everyone has a place in it now whether they want to or not."
Facebook declined to comment on Losse's book.
Take a listen to the interview and tell us what you think! Do you think Facebook is trying to take over the world?
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