Mark Zuckerberg Leaps Warren Buffett on Rich List as Facebook Creates More Divisive World

Mark Zuckerberg's road to riches is paved with controversy. Facebook's 'divisive' algorithm is one of them.
Posted in: BusinessHeadlines
Published:
May 27, 2020 2:15 PM UTC
  • Mark Zuckerberg overtakes Warren Buffett en route to become the world’s third-richest person.
  • Zuckerberg’s fortune soars as Facebook stock prints fresh all-time highs.
  • Facebook’s stock is soaring despite controversial reports about its ‘divisive’ algorithms.

Mark Zuckerberg is now the third richest person on the planet as shares of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) print fresh all-time highs. The Facebook CEO has overtaken legendary investor Warren Buffett amid reports that the social media giant is creating a more divisive world.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth Soars

Mark Zuckerberg has zoomed past Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett in terms of net worth. According to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, the Facebook CEO has seen his wealth surge from $54.7 billion in March to $88.1 billion in May. Meanwhile, the Oracle of Omaha’s net worth nosedived by almost $20 billion to $71.1 billion.

The difference in net worth is largely due to Facebook outpacing Berkshire Hathaway’s stock, as the fortunes of both chief executives entangled with their companies. Mark Zuckerberg owns 13% of Facebook while the Buffett owns 16% of Berkshire.

After plunging to the 2020 low of $137.10 in March, Facebook shares climbed to an all-time high of $240.90 on Tuesday for a 75% increase. In contrast, Berkshire is down nearly 20% year-to-date.

Facebook is soaring. | Source: TradingView

While Zuckerberg is enjoying his skyrocketing wealth, reports say that he allowed Facebook’s algorithms to foster a more divisive world.

Facebook Reportedly Ignored Reports That Algorithms Divide Users

Facebook was supposed to connect people together. Instead, executives of the social media giant, including Zuckerberg, were aware that its algorithms, specifically its recommendation system, sparked divisiveness and polarization according to a Wall Street Journal expose.

Facebook is supposed to bring people together. | Source: Facebook

Deepa Seetharaman, one of the writers who worked on the Journal’s report, said Facebook spent years studying its role in polarization and how its platform affected user behavior.

Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,

says a slide from a 2018 presentation. The presentation also warned that if nothing was done, Facebook would feed users with

more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention and increase time on the platform.

The presentation concluded that, in some ways, Facebook encourages polarization and tribal behavior.

But company executives including Zuckerberg chose to put the research away as changes might negatively impact engagement.

It appears that Zuckerberg is reaping the rewards of his decision to drive user engagement despite the harm that his platform poses to society.

Disclaimer: The author holds no investent position in any of the above-mentioned companies.

Sam Bourgi edited this article for CCN.com. If you see a breach of our Code of Ethics or Rights and Duties of the Editor or find a factual, spelling, or grammar error, please contact us.

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Kiril Nikolaev, CFA @kirilnikk123

Kiril is a CFA Charterholder and financial professional with 6+ years of experience in financial writing, analysis and product ownership. He has a bachelor's degree with a specialty in finance and lives in Canada. Kiril’s current focus is on finance and cryptocurrencies. He also has his personal website, Investor Academy, where he teaches people about the basics of investing. He owns Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins but does not engage in short-term or day-trading. Get in touch with Kiril: Muck Rack, Email, Follow on Twitter