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Who is the most powerful person of all time?
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Mark Zuckerberg controls data

Since the beginning of time, data, in whatever format, has been key to power.
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In the digital world, controlling information is the ultimate exercise of power. Facebook, and therefore Mark Zuckerberg, controls more information than anyone.

The Argument

Facebook knows more about its users than any other organisation on earth. Using its algorithms Facebook can predict to a high level of accuracy whether you are pregnant, smoke, take drugs, are gay or lesbian, and how intelligent you are. Every day, more than 500 terabytes of information flow into Facebook’s servers.[1] Harnessing this data grants Mark Zuckerberg an unprecedented glimpse into everyone’s lives and awards him a level of power that is unprecedented in human history.

Counter arguments

Data is useless unless you can do something with it. Data protection laws prevent Mark Zuckerberg from doing much beyond marketing with the data he has. It would be like having the most powerful weapon in the world at your fingertips but being utterly powerless to use it. This illustrates the nature of Zuckerberg's power. He has virtually unlimited power at his fingertips but is prevented by the law from accessing it.


Data accumulation is the most impressive source of power. From the ancient world to today, harnessing data is critical. Had King Herod not known which households had children under the age of two-years-old in biblical Bethlehem, he couldn’t have massacred the innocents. Today, without data, it is impossible to accumulate political, financial, or business power.


[P1] Information is power. [P2] Data is information. [P3] Therefore, the person that controls the most data is the most powerful. [P4] Mark Zuckerberg controls more data than anyone in history. [P5] Therefore, Mark Zuckerberg is the most powerful person in history.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P4] He controls the data but cannot use it.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 11 Mar 2020 at 12:37 UTC

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