Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s love for ancient Roman emperor Augustus Caesar offers some insights into how he views being a leader, reports CNBC and the New Yorker Magazine.
“You have all these good and bad and complex figures,” Zuckerberg said during an interview with The New Yorker. “I think Augustus is one of the most fascinating. Basically, through a really harsh approach, he established two hundred years of world peace.”
Like Zuckerberg, Augustus assumed power of his empire at a young age. To attain world peace, Augustus had to make choices “that didn’t come for free, and he had to do certain things,” Zuckerberg added. But in the end, the Facebook executive believes the emperor was able to achieve a significant period of peace, even though it came at a cost of perhaps millions of lives.
But who really is Augustus Caesar?
Caesar Augustus, the first emperor in the ancient Roman Empire, issued an order which fulfilled a biblical prophecy made 600 years before he was born.
The prophet Micah had foretold that the Messiah would be born in the tiny village of Bethlehem:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.'” (Micah 5:2, NIV)
It was Augustus Caesar who ordered the census to be taken of the Roman world, including what is today Israel, for tax purposes. That led to Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem, where of course, Jesus was born. Augustus would remain Caesar until Jesus would have been around 14-years-old.
During those formative years of Jesus, Jews were allowed to practice their religion and culture with one caveat. They needed to tow the Roman line and not get out of line.
Sound familiar? So what does that paradigm mean for Christians and culture today and how Facebook is run and wants to run the world?
Augustus eliminated political opponents and arranged for the execution of his grandson in a brutal attempt to keep control and order the world in his own image.
Zuckerberg’s interest in ancient Rome began in high school and has continued throughout his life, he said. In addition to naming his second daughter August, he spent his 2012 honeymoon in Rome, according to the magazine.
The Augustus mindset could be one reason why Zuckerberg reportedly led his company to pursue growth at all costs, and used to end some meetings by half-jokingly shouting “Domination!,” the profile says.
The New Yorker magazine reports that, “when Facebook stopped growing at 50 million users in 2007, the executive created a ‘Growth Team’ to focus on getting more users.
The continued, saying that solutions included adding more languages to reach out to new territories, as well as asking the Federal Election Commission to exempt the platform from disclosing political ad funding sources in 2011. It also opened its platform to outside developers before putting safeguards in place to make sure user data wasn’t misused, according to former operations manager Sandy Parakilas.
Many of these growth strategies have led to Facebook’s current issues, including censoring conservative and Christians speech in particlar, or just speech the ultra liberal corporate behemoth disagrees with in general.
Facebook recently instituted a policy in which news organizations that reported any stories with key words or themes must register with the company. Those key words Facebook bans unless approved include the values, military, environment, and more.
Congressional hearings are continuing in an attempt to see just how far Facebook will go to limit speech it does not agree with. While it may not come to physically “eliminating” their opponents like Augustus did, their attempt, and the actions of other platforms like Google and Twitter, to control the conversation in the Facebook community is seen as no less ruthless.
–Dwight Widaman and Wire services