Facebook founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mark Zuckerberg’s personal wealth has fallen reduced by more than $6 billion in a few hours, knocking him down a notch on the list of the world’s richest people.
The drastic reduction in his net worth was largely due to a revelation by a whistleblower and also outages that affected Facebook Inc.’s flagship products.
The flagship products include Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
According to a report by Yahoo Finance, a selloff sent the social-media giant’s stock plummeting 4.9% on Monday, adding to a drop of about 15% since mid-September.
The stock slide on Monday sent Zuckerberg’s worth down to $121.6 billion, dropping him below Bill Gates to No. 5 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He’s down from almost $140 billion in a matter of weeks, according to the index.
On September 13, the Wall Street Journal began publishing a series of stories based on a cache of internal documents, revealing that Facebook knew about a wide range of problems with its products — such as Instagram’s harm to teenage girls’ mental health and misinformation about the Jan. 6 Capitol riots — while downplaying the issues in public.
The reports have drawn the attention of government officials, and on Monday, the whistleblower revealed herself.
In an explosive 60 Minutes interview that aired in the United States, Sunday, data scientist Frances Haugen, a former employee in Facebook’s civic integrity unit, revealed that she was the source of the internal documents and research showing the company knew of the harmful effects caused by its platforms.
According to DW, the company’s own findings include knowledge of the harms Instagram caused teen girls’ body image perceptions and a two-tier system of penalties for misuse of its platforms, one for celebrities and the other for the public.
“I’ve seen a bunch of social networks and it was substantially worse at Facebook than what I had seen before,” Haugen told “60 Minutes.”
“The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world,” she added.
In response, Facebook has emphasized that the issues facing its products, including political polarization, are complex and not caused by technology alone.
“I think it gives people comfort to assume that there must be a technological or a technical explanation for the issues of political polarization in the United States,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, told CNN.