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The Social Network/A Crisis of Ethics in America ~Chuck Colson

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The Social Network/A Crisis of Ethics in America ~Chuck Colson Empty The Social Network/A Crisis of Ethics in America ~Chuck Colson

Post  Admin on Tue 19 Oct 2010, 2:11 pm

The Social Network
A Crisis of Ethics in America
October 08, 2010 Chuck Colson
Even before the critically-acclaime d film The Social Network opened in
theaters, there was one big financial winner: Newark, New Jersey's
public schools.
While critics were screening the movie, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
donated $100 million to the struggling school system. Not only that, he
made the announcement on Oprah.
Apparently, Zuckerberg was looking for a little bit of good PR. He's
concerned that people who see the film may question his personal ethics.
The more important concern ought to be, however, what the film says
about business ethics in our culture.
The Social Network, based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben
Mezrich, tells what's been called a "creation myth" about the wildly
successful Facebook. The "myth" alternates scenes from Zuckerberg's days
at Harvard and depositions taken in connection with two lawsuits filed
against him by former schoolmates.
One lawsuit alleged that that Zuckerberg stole the plaintiffs' idea. The
other lawsuit was brought by Zuckerberg's best friend, who accused
Zuckerberg of cheating him out of his share of Facebook.
Well, regardless of the legal merits of the allegations, Zuckerberg has
reason to be concerned: His actions depicted in the film ranged from
merely duplicitous to outright treacherous.
While the filmmakers have acknowledged taking some creative license,
Zuckerberg's ruthlessness is well-documented, which prompts the central
question of the film: Why? In the film, the answer is that he's an
insecure outsider who wants to be one of the "cool kids." Others have
speculated that he suffers from autism spectrum disorder, which is
unfair to autistic people: They may be socially awkward, but they are
the farthest thing from ruthless.
Focusing on Zuckerberg's foibles misses the point: The most important
failure wasn't personal but cultural. Every one of the actions depicted
in the film was arguably legal: You don't have a proprietary interest in
an idea. Zuckerberg's friend signed away his interest in Facebook
because he wrongly thought that Zuckerberg's lawyers were looking after
his interests as well.
Similarly, virtually all of the practices that nearly wrecked the global
economy back in 2008 were legal--all of which goes to prove that just
because something is legal doesn't make it ethical or right. Any lawyer
worth his hourly billings can find a way to exploit weaknesses in the
system.
So the question isn't "why?" but "why not?" If the only thing standing
between you and millions, even billions, is other people's disapproval,
why not do what you want to do? Especially since you can subsequently
buy their approval with a check and an appearance on Oprah?
Of course, if this becomes normative, then the kind of trust that makes
free markets possible would dry up, which is exactly what happened in
the aftermath of sub-prime crisis. Lenders have money to lend--what they
lack is confidence in borrowers' ability or willingness to repay.
This ethical crisis we see in America is why Robbie George at Princeton
and I have filmed a video teaching series on ethics called Doing the
Right Thing. We expect to release this at year's end. But you can watch
the trailer by going to BreakPoint.org and clicking on today's
commentary.
Remind those who see The Social Network (number one in box-office
receipts), that without real ethics, trust is impossible, and no amount
of money can repair the damage that causes.

For further reading, click here]
http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/15502
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