WATCH: Inside Facebook’s Early Days

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October 29, 2018

Before Facebook was a more-than-$400-billion-dollar global company, it was a dorm-room project — one conceptualized by a young founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who believed in technology’s power to connect people.

FRONTLINE’s new documentary, The Facebook Dilemma, traces the company’s rise from the early days, when Zuckerberg had just set out on a mission to connect college students.

In a 2005 interview, Zuckerberg was asked, “Where are you taking Facebook at this point in your life?”

To which he answered, “Um. I mean… there doesn’t necessarily have to be more.”

Of course, the Facebook story turned out much differently: Thirteen years later, the platform has more than two billion users.

Go inside Facebook’s beginnings in the above excerpt from The Facebook Dilemma, in which early Facebook investor Roger McNamee tells FRONTLINE about Zuckerberg’s vision of “connecting the whole world.”

“It was not crazy. Somebody was going to connect all those people; why not him?” says McNamee, who was once close to Zuckerberg.

“In those days, ‘move fast and break things’ didn’t seem to be sociopathic,” McNamee says, referring to what would become the company’s motto. “It wasn’t that they intended to do harm so much as they were unconcerned about the possibility that harm would result.”

“A lot of the time, people are just too careful,” Zuckerberg says in other footage that appears in the above excerpt. “I think it’s more useful to make things happen and then, like, apologize later, than it is to make sure that you dot all your i’s now and then, like, just not get stuff done.”

Zuckerberg’s approach, McNamee says in the excerpt, reflected a “deeply ingrained” Silicon Valley optimism about technology: “That, of course technology makes the world a better place. It always had; it always will. And that assumption essentially masked a set of changes that were going on in the culture that were very dangerous.”

The FRONTLINE documentary goes on to offer an eye-opening look at the warnings, denials and unintended consequences that have accompanied Facebook’s growth into both a global superpower — and a player in social movements and elections around the world.  

The Facebook Dilemma premieres Monday, Oct. 29 and Tuesday, Oct. 30 on PBS (check local listings) and online at pbs.org/frontline.


Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@ptaddonio

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