Mark Zuckerberg has a message for you: He doesn’t care if you like him.
Signaling a change in tone as his company continues to face withering criticism over its business practices, the normally affable chief executive told investors Wednesday he was no longer going to shy away from being blunt, even if that means ruffling feathers.
“My goal for the next decade isn’t to be liked but to be understood,” he said during Facebook’s fourth-quarter earnings call.
“One critique of our approach for much of the last decade was that because we wanted to be liked, we didn’t always communicate our views as clearly because we worried about offending people,” he said. “This led to some positive but shallow sentiment towards the company.”
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In 2020, Zuckerberg says the company is committed to more clearly telling everyone what Facebook’s principles are, such as freedom of expression, encryption and, yes, targeted advertising.
“In order to be trusted, people need to know what you stand for,” he said. “These positions aren’t always going to be popular, but I think it’s important for us to take these debates head on. I know there are a lot of people who agree with these principles, and there are a lot more who are open to them and want to see these arguments get made. So expect more of that this year.”
Zuckerberg has already shown he intends to be more challenging, even a bit combative.
In October, after getting grief that he was trying to appease President Trump and his allies over allegations of anti-conservative bias by having private dinners with conservative figures such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Fox News political commentator Tucker Carlson, the Facebook CEO responded sharply: “To be clear I have dinners with lots of people across the spectrum on lots of different issues all the time,” he wrote in a Facebook post at the time. “If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do!”
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Helping deflect intensifying scrutiny from regulators and outright hostility from Democratic leaders, Facebook remains a reliable money-making machine for Wall Street, growing the number of users of its products and the amount of time they spend on its platforms and increasing advertising sales even as climbing expenses in security and safety unnerve investors.
In the fourth quarter, Facebook ‘s revenue rose 25% to $21.1 billion from $16.9 billion a year ago, beating analyst estimates of $20.9 billion. Earnings were $7.35 billion, or $2.56 a share, also surpassing expectations.
Facebook hit 2.5 billion monthly users worldwide at the end of 2019. Daily users of Facebook increased to 1.66 billion.