By Jeremy Kaplan, ,
Published October 21, 2015
The man who made everyone’s life an open book can no longer leave his house without everyone knowing what car he drives (an Acura TSX), where he hangs out (the Nut House), and what sort of shoes he wears (flip-flops, more often than not).
Welcome, Mark Zuckerberg, to the world you created . . . like it or not.
Citing what it calls the destructive effect that Zuckerberg's creation -- social-networking powerhouse Facebook -- has had on privacy, a website has decided to eliminate his privacy, hiring a photographer to stalk the 26-year-old multibillionaire and publishing photos of his house, his car, his girlfriend ... his life.
Is turnabout fair play?
"Facebook's CEO doesn't seem too preoccupied about your privacy, or about ours," says Ryan Tate, editor of the gossip website Valleywag, which posted the photographs. "Likewise, we weren't bothered by the notion of tailing him around the Valley for a few days, or about sharing the experience with you....
"If it feels a little naughty to take such a close look into Zuckerberg's life, remember that this is the executive who pushed the private information of Facebook's hundreds of millions of users progressively further into the public sphere," Tate said.
But some peeps say it's not right to peep on Zuckerberg, and some are calling for Tate's resignation.
"Even if you accept that Facebook’s handling of user privacy was a misstep (which I don’t entirely), to argue that it’s analogous to following someone around with a camera all week and publicizing his home address on the Internet just defies belief," wrote the popular blog Techcrunch.
The pictures on Valleywag document the surprisingly mundane private life of a young multibillionaire; with $4 billion to his name, Zuckerberg is the 212th richest man in the world, according to Forbes, falling between 81-year-old Swatch watch magnate Nicholas Hayek and 80-year-old Conde Nast owner Donald Newhouse.
Zuckerberg may be rich beyond his dreams, but his life appears to be pedestrian, at best. Valleywag's pictures show him strolling in sneakers in front of his modest home, which he rents. He appears to drive a $20,000 Acura TSX, and he texts his friends from an iPhone.
And now it's all been documented for the world to see.
Nick Denton, the founder of Valleywag parent company Gawker, says he fully agrees with the decision to publish the photos of Zuckerberg.
"I think you’re trapped in a previous era -- one in which journalists had special access to information and dispensed it sparingly and responsibly," he wrote in an email to Techcrunch.
"Now there’s much less distinction to the profession: Everybody has access to formerly privileged information and anybody can publish it. We’d all better adjust."
Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said he was aware of the issue, but both Zuckerberg and the company declined to comment on the matter.
And while Zuckerberg hasn't discussed Valleywag's presentation of his life in pictures, he has has spoken out about privacy in the past, notably telling Techcrunch in January that "the age of privacy is over."
Some Internet law experts defended posting the pics of the Facebook founder, calling it a clever way to turn Zuckerberg's words back against him.
“It’s a clever and impactful way to highlight the true meaning of what Zuckerberg said -- and perhaps a lesson in why it is always important to think before you speak," said Hemanshu “Hemu” Nigam, a security expert and the former chief security officer with MySpace.com.
"Based on what I see, it doesn’t look like Valleywag has crossed any lines and has simply given a tech guy some paparazzi treatment,” he told FoxNews.com.
Erik Syverson, an Internet law attorney, agreed that Valleywag hadn't broken any regulations with its post.
"From a legal/privacy perspective, is there anything wrong with what they did? No."
Zuckerberg is a very public figure, and as such he has less expectation of privacy than most people do, Syverson told FoxNews.com. And public figures like the Facebook founder can expect similar attacks in the future, he said.
"If anything, people of his stature are going to experience a dwindling of their expectation of privacy. We're in a TMZ society after all," he said.