Mark Zuckerberg is not a candidate to be one of the most powerful men in the world. According to the latest publication of Forbes magazine, the founder and CEO of Facebook is among the ten richest people on the planet, but several names such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates or Larry Page are ahead of him.

The global billionaires as a whole have increased their fortune by about five trillion dollars, the largest increase on record, according to the report “Inequality Kills” by the international anti-poverty organization Oxfam. At the same time that “a millionaire was created every 26 hours”, 99% of humanity became poorer and 160 million more people fell into poverty, it points out. And largely responsible for this is the pandemic, which has made the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Unsuccessful image washing

In November, Facebook became “Meta”, which, although it did not affect its social networks (Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook), the modification would have an objective of “image washing”, in which it intended to dissociate itself from the controversies that arose in previous years, as well as the continuous global crashes of its servers. The objective, it said, was to create a “metaverse”, in which it was betting on virtual reality.

The project has only received criticism and few people seem interested in handing over their privacy, almost their lives, to a company in exchange for something that has already failed in the past (Second Life, for example).

But in the first few weeks, the tycoon has not had great luck. The company has lost more than 20% of its value, equivalent to some 200 billion euros, and everything points to the fact that the main reason is that Facebook’s user base has plummeted from 1930 million to 1929 million active users.

Although these numbers do not seem a catastrophe, it is the first time that the company has lost more users than it has gained from one quarter to the next, but they are especially significant because they hide an even worse fact: in the United States, where the company obtains the bulk of its revenues, Facebook is losing three million monthly users and has been positioned as a boring social network only for the elderly. The panic spread to other companies in the social networking sector, such as Twitter, which also saw its share value fall.

Problems with antitrust laws

Zuckerberg’s empire started 2022 with two legal battles, in which he faced the United States and the United Kingdom.

Last January 11, a court in the District of Columbia admitted to proceedings an antitrust complaint by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission against Facebook, whereby the country alleges that Meta has an illegal monopoly in social networking services by having acquired two direct rivals such as Instagram and WhatsApp and integrating more and more platforms with others. The evidence provided is stronger than that presented in 2020, when a lawsuit of a similar nature was dismissed.

For its part, the British lawsuit gathers that Facebook used its dominant position in the social network market between 2015 to impose unfair terms and conditions on its users, from whom it demanded the surrender of valuable personal data to access the social network.

Meta is not finding all the talent it needs, and the lack of manpower -Zuckerberg has assured that he is not going to hire anyone-, the tremendous disbursement that its adventure in the metaverse is going to entail and the judicial setbacks add to the bad economic start of the year with the possible dire economic consequences it presents. A business that, in the long term, could be in danger.

Legal problems with his neighbors in Hawaii

Unlike other tech billionaires, Zuckerberg is not known for spending his money on space programs, subway tunnels or yachts. He enjoys a quiet family life with his wife Priscilla Chan. He does, however, invest his fortune in property.

In December, he expanded his controversial 1500-acre (about 607 hectares) private estate on Kauai, Hawaii island by an additional 110 acres, despite ongoing criticism from his neighbors and lawsuits against locals in which he has been embroiled. As far back as 2016, the Daily Star explains, he built 6-foot stone walls that made beach access difficult. “People have always seen the value of living in Hawaii, in paradise, and for many generations it has been detrimental to us,” Mason Chock, a Kauai council member, told The Guardian, who denounces that foreign people “come to Kauai to buy land and only they can afford to live there.”

In addition, the British media claim that Zuckerberg spends around ten billion dollars per year on private planes through Facebook. But the successive crises he is facing are causing the empire to falter.

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