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Mark Zuckerberg vs Silicon Valley: The Possible War To Come

By Luis Fran , Oct 24, 2016 07:23 PM EDT
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Could the Facebook CEO lose his powerful importance in Silicon Valley because he supported Peter Thiel and allowed Donald Trump´s alleged racist posts? (Photo : Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Mark Zuckerberg will probably have to face a major clash with Silicon Valley until the U.S. Presidential elections, because of the tech center's political stance against Donald Trump and the decisions that the Facebook leader made in the last few days. Inciting controversy, Zuckerberg supported Peter Thiel´s position in the company and allowed the Republican Nominee to write anything on his post, regardless if it could be considered as hate speech.

The Thiel Situation

When the Paypal co-founder announced his support for Trump and the donation of $1.25 million to his campaign, the entire world were incredibly surprised, giving the fact that he´s the only tech center member who have openly endorsed the conservative candidate. Of course, Silicon Valley response was fast and aggressive against Thiel, to the point where some members ended up insulting him through social media.

Also, Project Include, an organization that aims to increase diversity in Silicon Valley, cut its relations with the start-up accelerator Y Combinator - a company in which Thiel is one of the most important members - because of Thiel´s links with Trump. Project Include's co-founder Paul Graham, who openly supports Hillary Clinton and has compared the Republican nominee with Hitler, initiated the separation.

Although it would be extremely more difficult to take this kind of actions with a much more powerful company such as Facebook, the tech center set a precedent in which it was clearly showed that they will be against any company where one of its main members has a different political stance.

However, everyone expected Zuckerberg´s response to be in concordance with his political views, that he also would stand against Trump, and removes Thiel from Facebook´s board. Far from taking this decision, the CEO wrote a short missive to the company employees in which he expressed his support for the long-term board member, saying that "We can't create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate," as reported by Fortune.

Deciding To Allow Trump´s Racist Statements

The next situation for Zuckerberg was even more controversial, since he not only faced Silicon Valley's disapproval, but also his employees, some of which threatened to quit the company. This case was his decision to allow the publication of Trump´s Facebook post, even if they could be easily considered as hate speech.

His reasons were that censoring a presidential candidate could be too drastic, and that some of the statements could be important to public interest, even if they violate Facebook´s standards. This was something that many people criticized, since it could be considered as a greenlight for the Republican nominee to tell whatever he wants, and it looks like an incredible policy change to the social media platform.

In fact, an important media as The Guardian claimed that "Mark Zuckerberg is officially the editor-in-chief of the world's largest news organization, though he may not know it yet. Two news items on Friday suggest that Facebook is instituting editorial standards analogous to those of a newspaper - and that Zuckerberg has the final say in matters of editorial judgment."

Mark Zuckerberg´s Possible Strategy

Analyzing his both decisions in the last days, it is clear that Silicon Valley showed its extremism on the Peter Thiel case, considering that anyone can support the political candidate they want, and make any kind of donation as in amounts as large as they want. Although Zuckerberg´s decision and justification were perfectly right, it represents a little bit of danger, giving the tech center strong position against Thiel.

On the other hand, letting Donald Trump write what he wants could be extremely dangerous for Facebook CEO, considering that this has been an unpopular decision, and every time the Republican Nominee write a statement that could be easily considered as a hate speech, Zuckerberg will be in the spotlight, and Silicon Valley will not look at him with soft eyes.

However, what no one seems to notice is that this decision could actually be an intelligent strategy to harm Trump´s image, by letting everyone knows every time he commits a serious flaw, because even when is right to censor the Republican Nominee when he says something racist, it wouldn't b so harmful for him if that statement isn't published.

Also, this decision would allow Facebook to have more viewers and users than ever, considering that the few weeks before the elections will be extremely intense. Of course, the risk of a struggle with the tech center could happen, and is difficult to conclude which candidate would benefit Zuckerberg´s interest more.

If Hillary Clinton wins, it would undeniable that there will be no trouble for Facebook, but it would be an unpredictable scenario if Trump becomes the new president, giving the fact that Zuckerberg´s doesn't support him, Peter Thiel is an important member of the company, and Silicon Valley is totally against the Republican and his supporters.

A major clash with the tech center, the media and his employees, could be the price to pay for one of the most powerful member of the tech industry to achieve his objectives. From now on, every statement that Donald Trump made on Facebook, will be more controversial than ever.

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