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