U.S. markets close in 3 hours 58 minutes
  • S&P 500

    4,402.03
    +34.55 (+0.79%)
     
  • Dow 30

    35,019.14
    +195.79 (+0.56%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    14,795.30
    +110.70 (+0.75%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    2,199.57
    +0.09 (+0.00%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    71.73
    -0.18 (-0.25%)
     
  • Gold

    1,802.60
    -2.80 (-0.16%)
     
  • Silver

    25.25
    -0.13 (-0.52%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.1766
    -0.0007 (-0.06%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.2860
    +0.0210 (+1.66%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3750
    -0.0018 (-0.13%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    110.5090
    +0.3940 (+0.36%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    32,334.47
    -159.79 (-0.49%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    784.48
    -9.25 (-1.17%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,027.58
    +59.28 (+0.85%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    27,548.00
    +159.80 (+0.58%)
     
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Influencers with Andy Serwer: Cecilia Kang

In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In this episode of Influencers, Andy is joined by Cecilia Kang, The New York Times reporter and author of 'An Ugly Truth', for a discussion about Facebook's feud with the federal government, its handling of misinformation during the Trump years, and Mark Zuckerberg's leadership within the company.

Video Transcript

ANDY SERWER: With 2.9 billion users, Facebook is one of the most powerful companies on Earth. But its decisions are often shrouded in secrecy. Cecilia Kang made it her mission to uncover what's behind them. She's the co-author of a new book entitled, "An Ugly Truth, Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination", which chronicles turmoil within Facebook during the Trump era. She's also a technology reporter for the "New York Times", which she joined after a decade at "The Washington Post" following stints with the San Jose "Mercury News" and Dow Jones.

On this episode of Influencers, Cecilia joins me to talk about how the company achieved its incredible growth, the relationship between Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, and whether the platform is doing enough to stop misinformation about vaccines.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Hello, everyone. And welcome to Influencers. I'm Andy Serwer. And welcome to our guest, Cecilia Kang, who is a technology reporter at "The New York Times" and co-author of the new book, "An Ugly Truth, Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination". Cecilia, welcome.

CECILIA KANG: Hi, Andy. Thanks for having me.

ANDY SERWER: So there has been some strong talk back and forth between the White House and Facebook over the past couple days. At first, President Biden said Facebook was killing people. And then he walked back those comments. Facebook earlier had a post from Guy Rosen, the VP for Integrity. What do you make of this back and forth?

CECILIA KANG: There's been an extraordinary exchange of words over the last several days between Facebook and the White House. The White House is really angry about what they see is the spread of misinformation leading to the hesitancy in adopting the vaccine. And Facebook is saying, hey. Don't blame us. It's not just us. It's not just social media. There are many reasons why people aren't adopting the vaccine. And you shouldn't be, quote, "finger pointing" at us.

So there's a lot right now of pressure within the White House to meet their vaccination goals. And Facebook is saying, we're actually doing our part not to kill people, but to save lives.

ANDY SERWER: Did it seem like the White House backed down a little bit or President Biden backed down from a stronger statement?

CECILIA KANG: Yeah. I think they tried to refine his words. He was saying actually, it's not necessarily the social media companies who are killing people, but it's the big influencers on Facebook who spread misinformation who are leading to deaths and leading people to not adopt the vaccine. And that was a distinction that was not heard on Friday afternoon as he was boarding Marine One. And he did say in direct answer to a question about his thoughts on social media.

So it felt like he was actually retreating a little bit. But the frustration and the tension right now between the White House and Facebook still remains incredibly strong.

ANDY SERWER: More to dig into there. But I want to go back to the book front and center, Cecilia. And can you explain where the title "An Ugly Truth" comes from and how it underpins the thesis of the book?

CECILIA KANG: Yes. The title comes from a memo written by a Facebook executive himself. His name is Andrew Bosworth. He's been there since the earliest days. And he wrote a memo in 2016 where he explained, look. This company is starting to get a lot of scrutiny. But we believe so deeply in connecting the world and in growing that there will be collateral damage. There will be consequences. He said, so, some people may die in a terrorist attack. Some people may get harmed in some way by bullying or other things on our platform.

But we believe so deeply in this idea of growing and connecting everyone in the world. That's the ugly truth that we're willing to balance is that there will be some consequences. But what we believe is so much greater. And we really built off of this idea that there's this really incredible dichotomy at Facebook where growth is the number one goal. And the profit machine that Facebook has created is so incredibly powerful. But it has come at the expense of the rise of hate groups, misinformation, data privacy abuses. That's a dichotomy in the ugly truth we explore.

ANDY SERWER: Yeah. And I think that that trajectory, the question of whether that was baked in from the beginning or developed over the time is something you really wrestle with in the book. Where do you come down on that particular question?

CECILIA KANG: Yeah. I mean, I think that we come down on this being a really problematic platform as far as the way that the business model was built and the tools on top of the business model that prioritizes engagement. And there never has been a tapping of the brakes to slow down on engagement and growth. And culturally within the company, there has not been a prioritization of security, and of differing opinions, and hard news, and bad news to the top executives.

So all this combined leads to problems that the company has really been able to-- has not been able to wrestle with, or at least it's not been able at scale to match up with the scale of growth.

ANDY SERWER: Yeah. I guess when reporters like yourself, and I've been out there of course numerous times to talk to executives, including Mark, Mark Zuckerberg. And it really does appear that the structure, and you said this, the structure and the culture is absolutely centered on founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. So how much of your understanding of Facebook is understanding him? And what do you think the book contributes to that understanding?

CECILIA KANG: Yeah. I think understanding Mark Zuckerberg is key to understanding Facebook. I completely agree with you, Andy. And there is something very unique to this sort of founder, I don't want to say worship, but a lot of founder attention, in Silicon Valley, as you know very well. Mark Zuckerberg has a unique position, and really, I would argue among many Silicon Valley companies that he's still in charge. And he's only grasped more control over very important decisions.

And I think that's what's a little bit different than other companies, is that Mark Zuckerberg has been in control since the very beginning. And it's unusual that he's still CEO and this active after 17 years. But not only that, over the last four years, we show in our book how he's made key decisions on data privacy, on misinformation, and political speech. His evolution on his philosophy on speech is so key to understanding how we got to where we are today. So I definitely believe that Facebook is an embodiment of Mark Zuckerberg. And it continues to do so.

And it doesn't look like he's really letting go of that control in any way.

ANDY SERWER: Yeah, I agree with you Cecilia. And when you look at how he consolidated power at the board level and changed the board, is it's another incredible example of that I think. And another interesting facet of his oversight of course, is his relationship with Sheryl Sandberg. And that is something you really get into in the book. How did the company change after they met in 2007? And why did the years of the Trump presidency test their bond?

CECILIA KANG: Yes. So Sheryl Sandberg served a very important purpose in that she was a proven successful executive at Google by the time she arrived at Facebook. And she arrived at Facebook when Mark Zuckerberg needed to scale. And he needed somebody who knew how to grow a business beyond just 100 million US users, but global. They had shared aspirations to do that. And she knew how to create a profit center. She knew how to create a business model. So their relationship was very intricately twined. And they had mutual, mutual goals for throughout the very first years.

They definitely differed and there was tension in that Mark Zuckerberg did not want to do a lot of the things that Sheryl Sandberg eventually took up doing, which was policy and communications, government relations, legal, and growing the business. What happened was during the Trump years, and this is why we focus on this period, this sort of election to election, is that Trump in many ways tested so many parts of the business. So many of the things that were already systemic and intrinsic to the business model and the technology and the culture.

And so once Trump came in, controversy surfaced, and lots of these problems and scandals emerged. Mark Zuckerberg seized much more control. And importantly, what we saw is that Sheryl Sandberg, who was the counterbalance to some of his sort of impulses and his personality did not push back as much as I think many people internally, from what we heard, hoped she would. She was supposed to be the adult in the room when she was hired. And in many cases, she was very concerned about pushing too hard against her boss and angering him.

He had lost also some faith in her as well in that he was really mad that the company's reputation was deteriorating during the Trump years. And he cast some blame on her. And I would say probably unfairly because a lot of the problems came from his side of the business, which was product.

ANDY SERWER: It's interesting, I mean, this whole idea of challenging Mark Zuckerberg too much. And then you've seen executives leave and also board members, as I suggested earlier, have left as well. Correct?

CECILIA KANG: Absolutely. We have one example in the book where after Mark Zuckerberg gives his speech at Georgetown University when he lays out his vision for expression on the platform, he calls Facebook the fifth estate. And he explains why he gives politicians a special shield, or a special class, that allows them to violate essentially the hate speech and other rules that they have. And Sheryl Sandberg was hearing from so many people internally about, this is just an awful idea. It's not sophisticated. It's so problematic. His speech is so problematic.

But instead of confronting him, we have this one little anecdote where she tells one of her consultants, she has a lot of outside consultants, look. Why don't you send an email to Nick Clegg. And maybe Nick Clegg can influence him. And she has said over and over again to people internally, I serve at the pleasure of one person. One person's opinion really matters, which is Mark Zuckerberg. The board, as you mentioned, is incredibly important to understand the board structure. They're essentially an advisory board. And this is what Donald Graham, the former publisher and chairman of "The Washington Post" said to me in an interview was that, essentially our role is to advise them. They don't have a lot of control over the decision making.

So more and more, I mean, as you know this really well Andy, the first days Mark Zuckerberg had on his website the tagline, a Mark Zuckerberg production. And really, it's become even more like that these days. It's become much more of a Mark Zuckerberg production.

ANDY SERWER: Oh, that's a great point. Cecilia, I want to ask you how you and your co-author decided to do this book. And there's a number of other books and what makes your book, about Facebook I should say. And what makes your book different?

CECILIA KANG: Sure. So Shira Frankel lives in Oakland. I live in Washington DC. We both report for the "New York Times". And we'd written an investigation with other "New York Times" colleagues at the end of 2018. And I think that story for us really opened our eyes to how there was such a voracious interest in understanding Facebook from the inside. Facebook has an incredibly strong public relations machinery with hundreds of people who work in PR. And they very much control the image of the company. So it's hard to break in and to understand what's happening inside.

So we felt like we got at toe in at that point. And we realized that there was something that we needed. We just were so curious to know more. And we knew also that there's a lot on the cutting room floor. So that was the start of our thought on writing this book. We thought Facebook really deserved a book in that people deserve to know and understand the business model, and to understand all the technology decisions that lead us to why we see some of the problems today. And we really wanted to connect all of those dots in one book. And there are many books out there. I totally agree with you, Andy. And many of them are very good.

I think our book is different in that we take people inside with more than 400 people who we talk to, the majority of those former and current employees. The majority of those employees are current employees, even. And they're speaking really in an unvarnished way. They're not part of-- they've not been sort of filtered through the PR machinery. I think that's what's different. This is not supposed to be an account of the business story alone, but really a story of accountability of the company.

ANDY SERWER: Right. And another selling point, Cecilia, I think is that it's the newest book. And the company is only more important now than it was, say, five years ago. To wit, its market capitalization recently passed a trillion dollars late last month, if that's any indication. And it certainly is one indication.

I think the company, I don't know if they've officially responded to your book yet, but wouldn't they say something like, well the book focuses on the negative effects of the platform and overlooks its benefits. And you I'm sure would acknowledge that the platform has all kinds of benefits. But what do you think about the cost benefit analysis, I guess, if you will, of the platform? And where do you come out on that?

CECILIA KANG: Yes. I mean, even personally, reporting on this because has led me to evolve my thinking on my own use of social media, and particularly Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, which are the three apps owned by Facebook. I think it's really important for people to understand why they're seeing things at the top of their news feed, why there are-- what happens when they like, when they share, when they comment on a post, what happens in the machinery behind the scenes, and how advertisers involve.

So I think that I have so much more greater awareness of all of these things. And I think it's really important for users to also be informed and educated on what Facebook is. It's an incredibly successful business as you say. And it is a business first and foremost. And it has done incredible things and really positive things as well. I enjoy that I've been in contact with family and high school friends and et cetera on Facebook. But I think very deeply and hard when I see something that looks odd. I did get, for example, somebody in my friend networks share a post on vaccines that was completely false.

And I think really hard about why it surfaced to the top of my news feed. I think really hard about why they label things and why things aren't labeled as misinformation. So I'm really hoping that people walk away so much more informed. I think it's not realistic for us to think that people will actually leave Facebook.

ANDY SERWER: Right. And it is so ubiquitous. I mean, the numbers are just staggering. And we have a fairly big platform here. You guys have a pretty big platform at "The New York Times". But we're just minnows compared to them. And the power-- it brings me to this question, Cecilia. I wonder if you consider this. Has there ever been a company that's this big, this powerful, and yet really has not 100% grasp of its business and the implications?

CECILIA KANG: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's interesting. Right now, Facebook is faced with several lawsuits, two that were thrown out, one was for antitrust. But it has been, it's under incredible pressure on the competition side and criticism that has become too big and dominant. I think history might be a guide. I think there's so many echoes to the beginning of the trusts of the real steel, sugar, and other trusts of a century ago. And at the same time, that was a time when people were criticizing advocates and the public and labor that those companies were also too powerful.

So potentially in history. It feels very unique right now. But also history can be a guide on potentially what may happen in the future.

ANDY SERWER: Right. And I think it's really interesting when you talk about that. I mean, the Hudson Bay Company, Ford, one of those kinds of things where you really go back, a really omnipotent kind of power like this. And what happens ultimately? I want to ask you about the behavior of the company sort of collectively, or which is to say maybe the values of the company, which people talk about a lot. I mean we talk about it as reporters and journalists. And but I talk about this with my friends as well. And I bet you do too, which is does the company know that it's engaging in behavior that's not great? In other words, is it intentional or consciously? Or is it sort of ignorant of the fact that maybe it's doing bad things?

CECILIA KANG: Yeah. It's a great question. I think they're very well aware that bad things are happening on the platform. One very important thing to take away from Facebook's culture is that it's incredibly defensive. They think that they're being unfairly blamed by other tech companies that are competitive. And they're trying to compete against them. Certainly by the media in their view. The media they believe is completely out to get them and even jealous of their business models is what we hear executives say.

So I think until that changes, there won't be complete acceptance. The other thing also is they realize that there's so many problems and that misinformation is the biggest one at the forefront. And they're so grappling with it. They're so far behind too though. We keep hearing, even currently, so many examples of how they have not prioritized conquering misinformation. We saw this on January 6.

It wasn't happening in plain sight, organizing by the far right to storm the Capitol. It was happening days before January 6. And people on security team, and we spool this out in the book, had warned executives. And executives they simply didn't act. There was at one point executives tried to get Mark Zuckerberg to call the president, the former President Trump. They decided not to because they were afraid it would lead to the press. But it was one of those and other examples where they saw organizing happen and they were just so concerned about what to do. They'd not clamped down on it.

ANDY SERWER: Right. And it is an insular culture as well. That's another problem. A lot of people have the same backgrounds. I think they've tried to change that. But a lot of people went to the same university for instance at the top level. There's a number of things. So let me ask you, Cecilia, about Washington and regulation, or just investigations. You talked about one that's stalled. They're pushing back against Lina Khan.

CECILIA KANG: Yes.

ANDY SERWER: So many things. But you've got republicans and democrats who both object vociferously to various practices by the company. But they're not on the same page, right?

CECILIA KANG: Yeah. I mean, it's really extraordinary how Facebook has united republicans and democrats in their mutual ire against the company. But they approach it in different ways. They all agree that Facebook is too powerful and dominant. And that's something you'll hear from both of them. The republicans have really taken on this idea that the company censors conservative figures on this site. There are many studies that debunk that for sure. And I think that if you see the most engaged content right now, it is coming from-- it is always-- it has been, I'm sorry, consistently the most trending. And the most engaged content does come from the far right.

So there's ample evidence that that's not true. But censorship is the biggest complaint by the republicans. Democrats are on the flip side really concerned about misinformation and disinformation. And so they're agreeing on the core problem, which is Facebook and that it needs to be regulated and reined in. But they come about it in such different ways that it's really difficult to see where they'll find agreement. I think they're finding the most agreement on antitrust reforms.

And so you will see a suite of bills that pass through a committee for antitrust reforms go to the House floor at some point and eventually reach the Senate. I would say a year or two ago, I would not have even thought that it passed the committee, antitrust bill reforms, because republicans are just so against anything that tends to interfere with the market. But that wasn't the case. So it leads me to believe that there's a lot of momentum in Washington.

ANDY SERWER: And in how much influence do you think President Trump holds here in terms of any sort of action against the company? Let me just ask about his lawsuit then specifically. Is there going to be any traction with that?

CECILIA KANG: I think that's going to be a hard one. I think most legal scholars say that it's tough, that what he's arguing is tough. I mean, it very well could be. But to be honest, I think a lot of legal scholars just don't think that there's a lot of merit to what he's discussing at all. Also as a former government official, it just really butts up against our First Amendment.

The other issue, though, is there are many people who have used Facebook as a political plank and have used big tech and this idea of censorship. So on the right, people like Jim Jordan, McCarthy, others who are very powerful in Congress, have definitely, definitely continued the former president's sort of campaign rhetoric, campaigning rhetoric that big tech is censoring conservatives. And that's been a big thing is for these politicians as they start campaigning for the midterms.

ANDY SERWER: Facebook always responds, well, in the past several years, that we are changing, we're listening. They have an ad campaign saying we want to be regulated, that the regulation is out of date. Has it really changed?

CECILIA KANG: Yes, in some ways. But absolutely not enough. They have expanded their security team, they've hired tens of thousands of content moderators. That's one example. Structurally, the most important changes are at the very top, that would have to happen, are at the very top. Mark Zuckerberg is only more in control. He's making the final decisions on very important things like politicians and whether their speech should be labeled or taken down.

I mean, the company right now is, unless things change with that particular structure and executive leadership, and the business model, and not even just the business model, but the focus on growth and engagement, then I don't see things changing in the near term or even in the long term.

ANDY SERWER: And what is the morale like inside the company right now? I talked to someone who joined the company recently and asked them how they were doing. And they said, I'm doing great. Everyone hates us. It was [INAUDIBLE], right?

CECILIA KANG: That's such an interesting sentiment. I hear that too, Andy. I think a lot of people though are angry and upset. Many people really want to see Facebook do better. And that's why a lot of people do talk to us. They want to see course correction. That sort of jaded response that you heard is, I think also troubling to others internally. Because that reflects continued sort of denial over maybe that the company needs more-- that the individuals need more self reflection. So I think all of that exists.

ANDY SERWER: I want to shift gears a little bit, Cecilia, and ask you about you and your career. You started reporting in South Korea for Dow Jones, worked at The Merc, and "The Post" before The Times. What are some of the most important lessons you learned early in your career?

CECILIA KANG: Yeah, thanks for asking, Andy. I think some of the most important lessons I learned is that this is just hard work. And you just got to keep digging, and digging, and digging. And you also have to be really trust your gut. I think most of the times where I go wrong is when I lose my confidence in my myself as a reporter and my instincts. I think and just to be more, one more thought, is to continue to be curious. Always be curious. And always just want to dig, dig, dig and learn more.

ANDY SERWER: And as an Asian woman reporting for the "New York Times" in the era of Donald Trump, did you experience negative interactions on the job? And how did you respond to that if you did?

CECILIA KANG: Yeah. I did not in the job. I'm very fortunate that I've not been, well certainly not at the "New York Times". And within the Trump administration, I had not heard anything directed at me. But I and others, other Asian-American journalists and others, were living in Washington, did face, we heard things. I heard people calling out the China virus to me when I walked down the street, that kind of a thing. There were problems for sure that we encountered that was the direct result of racist rhetoric during that era.

ANDY SERWER: And what about race and gender diversity in the field of journalism? I mean, it remains a challenge. And what do you think that the industry can do to improve things?

CECILIA KANG: Yeah, I mean, I think I'm often asked about the pipeline. And I've got to say, and I often hear complaints that there's not much of a pipeline. There aren't many resources. I just really think people need to look, look hard. We're out here. My colleague is a journalist of color as well and a woman and my co-author.

And maybe we're a rare combination. I really hope in the future that's not the case. But we're out there. I mean, I think one specific thing that I would recommend, and I've thought a lot about this, and I've helped a lot with hiring of various places that I've worked at is I think that there's a lot of merit to what this thing called the Rooney Rule, which is when you are about to hire somebody and you're looking for somebody, when you're looking for applicants, at least have a handful of candidates of color.

Make that a priority. Don't make that an afterthought. And that, I think, really moves the needle. And I think, again, just look out, just look. I know somebody. Come to me. I'll give you a list of people as well.

ANDY SERWER: And last question, Cecilia. What has been your relationship to social media over your reporting career? And maybe, I don't know if you want to speak for Shira as well, and talk about how that's evolved. And has the book forced you to think differently about it?

CECILIA KANG: Yeah. We both use Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. I mean, obviously as reporters in writing this book, we had to. But we use it also for our personal use for sure. I really started to curb my use of Facebook in particular, and Instagram, and WhatsApp through this process. I still use it. It's unavoidable. And I think that there are some merits, as I said before, to using it. We're both very careful about anything that's too personal, particularly about-- we're mothers. And so our children and our families. So we don't post a lot of photos.

And we're the same with Twitter. We don't post about our families. And we're careful about our privacy. But also we all also understand that it's hard to be a journalist these days without using social media to promote our stories, promote our book in this case. And there are some merit to that as well. I use LinkedIn as well. So I don't think social media is going to go away. And I don't think that that's really the moral of the story. It's just being smart about, what is the business? What is Facebook and other companies profiting from? And what is that dichotomy that we discussed at the very beginning, that the cost that comes with growth?

ANDY SERWER: Yeah I know. I know what you mean about writing critically of these companies and then posting it. I got called out by someone from Instagram when I did just that. And she said, you always write about these things and post it. And then I said, and you always call us on it. So it's a funny thing. I have one more question if I may. Curious, you wrote that Mark Zuckerberg may step away from the job as CEO to spend more time on philanthropic endeavors.

Do you think that would happen at any point soon? Would we ever see sometime soon Facebook without Mark Zuckerberg?

CECILIA KANG: We got that idea from talking to people who talked to directly about his real ambitions to emulate sort of the path that Bill Gates took. I don't know what the timing is on that. But we're already seeing his, with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and with his wife, Priscilla Chan, leading that, that he is-- and he set up, and he's talked to Bill Gates, who is a mentor of his for advice. We're seeing him start to plant the seeds.

I think Facebook has just so many issues right now to work out. He just can't possibly step away early on. I also think that he's so incredibly curious about technology. And he's so incredibly competitive that he would hate to see the next thing take over Facebook that it's going to be really hard for him to leave his day job any time soon.

ANDY SERWER: All right. We're going to leave it at that, Cecilia Kang, who is the technology reporter at the "New York Times" and co-author of a new book, "An Ugly Truth, Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination". Thank you so much for joining us.

CECILIA KANG: Thanks for having me.

ANDY SERWER: You've been watching Influencers. I'm Andy Serwer. We'll see you next time.