Facebook’s Director of Market Development, Randi Zuckerberg, has announced that she is leaving the company to start her own media firm RtoZ Media. It is no coincidence that Zuckerberg shares a name with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. She is his elder sister.
But it was more than family ties that kept the Zuckerbergette in Facebook. She is far more outgoing than Mark and trades his geekiness for charisma, both on and off camera. She was even nominated for an Emmy for her work in the development of Facebook Live, a real-time news show that she created, which uses Facebook as a platform for citizen journalism. Events that she covered for Facebook include candidate debates and elections for both parties in 2008 and 2010 and various entertainment events, including the Golden Globe awards, where she had an opportunity to help fans “correspond with their fans directly” on the red carpet, without any editorial voice mediating between them.
Having recently come back from a three-month maternity leave, Zuckerberg said that she used to time to consider what she wants to do next in her career. She explained her decision to launch her new company by saying that at Facebook she poured her “heart and soul into innovating and pushing the media industry forward by introducing new concepts around live, social, participatory viewing that the media industry has since adopted.” Then she added, “We have made incredible progress, but there is still much to be done and other ways I can affect change.”
The changes she made were not limited to social media either. Zuckerberg was also active in the UN Foundation, and organization devoted to, “mobilizing the energy and expertise of business and non-governmental organizations to help the UN tackle issues including climate change, children’s health, peace and security, and poverty eradication.” Among the projects she worked on were the inaugural Entrepreneurs Class, web safety, and the battle against malaria.
But Zuckerberg has also been at the center of some controversy recently with her assertion that, “I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away.” While this is not an uncommon sentiment—Google’s Eric Schmidt voiced a similar opinion—it runs counter to a major premise of the internet since its earliest days. Christopher Poole, founder of 4chan said in a recent TED Talk that, “Anonymity is authenticity, it allows you to share in a completely unvarnished, unfiltered, raw way and I think that’s something that’s extremely valuable.
The fact that such a senior figure at the world’s most prominent social networking site immediately drew fire from internet privacy activities such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
On Tuesday they responded to her comment with a posting that read, “If you don’t like Facebook’s rules, you can just go elsewhere, right? Now Randi Zuckerberg is advocating an Internet in which there is nowhere else to go. An Internet in which everyone has to use their real name is not necessarily going to be any more polite, but it is guaranteed to be a disaster for freedom of expression. Let’s not go there.”
Having put the “social” into the world’s biggest social media site, she is about to see if she put the “social” into other media as well. Users are about to see whether she will protect their privacy along the way.