Tavis McGinn spent six months doing a "very unusual" job at Facebook then decided he just didn't want to do it anymore. "I didn't feel proud to tell people I worked at Facebook," he tells the Verge. "I didn't feel I was helping the world." So what was he doing? After a three-year stint at Google, he had interviewed with the company hoping to do market research, but was offered and accepted a different role in April 2017: tracking exactly how the public views Mark Zuckerberg (as well as COO Sheryl Sandberg). Using surveys and focus groups around the globe—as part of an effort he'll only describe as "very, very expensive"—he was supposed to track Zuckerberg's name recognition, trustworthiness, and likability.
If that sounds simplistic, it wasn't: McGinn calls it "very advanced research. ... It's a bit like a political campaign, in the sense that you’re constantly measuring how every piece of communication lands. If Mark's doing a barbecue in his backyard and he hops on Facebook Live, how do people respond to that?" The Verge's take: "It is unusual for a company to have a staff person charged exclusively with monitoring perceptions of its CEO full time." While Facebook wouldn't specifically comment on what McGinn did, it did confirm that it's been tracking the perception of Zuckerberg for about two years. As for why McGinn only did the tracking for six of those months, he says that his hopes of really effecting change at Facebook were quickly dashed. "I couldn't change the values. I couldn't change the culture." Read the Verge's full story here. (Read more Facebook stories.)