'The Facebook Obsession,' Thursday on CNBC

Verne Gay
Newsday (MCT)

REASON TO WATCH: Not — ironically enough — for Facebook obsessives, but a good start for neophytes or those just emerging from a five-year hibernation.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: With Lester Holt reporting, CNBC promises "the real story" behind the unparalleled rise of a social network that has redefined the word "friend" en route to 500 million users.

Following the established documentary template, this report begins with a very personal story of a woman who located her birth mother on Facebook, then segues to the history of Facebook, with interviews of Chris Hughes — who launched President Obama's Facebook campaign and aggrieved early co-founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who are still aggrieved. It profiles a Massachusetts teacher whose brief online rant about the sanitary habits of her students ended her career. The privacy issue — of course — gets a big airing as well.

MY SAY: There is, alas, a very-late-to-the-party feel to "The Facebook Obsession," as if Holt and team had just straggled in the door around midnight and all the other partygoers were talked out, drunk, or both. A recent major motion picture has already explored the history, albeit with fictive flights of fantasy, while Mark Zuckerberg just submitted to another Lesley Stahl interview on "60 Minutes." (When CNBC sought an interview with Zuckerberg, Facebook spokespeople referred them instead to the site's "privacy page.") The Winklevosses whine to anyone within earshot, and for all I know are competing with the Naked Cowboy for the northwest corner of Times Square to set up another soapbox. Facebook, in the parlance of the news trade, is overexposed, and yet CNBC still feels duty bound to cover all those overexposed major issues, especially privacy concerns, without adding much of anything new. What's best here, however, is a clear, well-paced explanation of what Facebook was, and what it has become.

BOTTOM LINE: Good to a point, this hour badly needed to be stretched to two hours to further explore the technology, applications, business implications, future developments and, most of all, the basic reason for that very real Facebook obsession.





Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".


The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?


Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.


Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.


Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.


Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.


Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.


Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.


Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.


Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.