Who Does Mark Zuckerberg Have To Hurt To Get The Elizabeth Holmes Treatment?
Holmes only went to trial because she inconvenienced and embarrassed powerful people
Shortly after the jury in the Elizabeth Holmes trial began its deliberations last month, I sat down and wrote the following:
I want to ask a question that I’m not seeing enough people discussing: if Holmes is on trial for defrauding investors about her service, why isn’t that the case for virtually every operation in Silicon Valley?
The answer I suggested? Facebook and other untouchable tech giants primarily harm ordinary people; Theranos inconvenienced multiple powerful people:
Facebook lies to everyone (investors, partners, regulators, everyone) about their products, all the time…But unlike Theranos, when they fail, they don’t humiliate the power elite — they hurt everyday people & marginalized communities.
On Monday night, the jury in the Holmes case delivered a verdict that seemed to back up that answer: Holmes was found guilty on charges of defrauding investors, but not guilty, crucially, of defrauding patients.
I’m not a legal expert or a medical biologist and don’t feel qualified to opine on whether or not the jury got it right on whether patients were, in the end, defrauded by Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes. I do, however, believe this pair of verdicts only underlines the challenge we face in making a tech sector that’s accountable to all of us.
After all, the question I started with was simply this: Why wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg being put on trial alongside Elizabeth Holmes? It seems straightforward enough. They are both among the most prominent silicon valley tech titans of the last quarter-century, both utterly disgraced by the discovery of fraud and negligence, both figures that have seen extreme reversals of public perception (though Zuckerberg is by far the more widely and intensely negatively viewed of the two.)