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Why Facebook’s Business Model Isn’t Its Biggest Problem

About 20 years before Julius Caesar overthrew the Roman Republic and became the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, he was elected to the position Pontifex Maximus.

This made him the head of Roman state religion, and it came with some perks. The main one was a residence – Via Sacra (the main street of ancient Rome – and the ritziest address one could hope to have 2,000 years ago). A lesser honor – his wife, Pompeia, becoming the host of the annual Bona Dea festival – was nearly the end of Caesar’s career in Roman politics.

Because the Bona Dea festival had one rule: no men allowed.

But during Pompeia’s festival, a local nobleman donned some drag and snuck in. He didn’t make it very far before being caught, cast out and tried. But, since Caesar didn’t offer testimony against him, the nobleman walked.

Pompeia, on the other hand, found herself divorced by Caesar, who reportedly said “my wife ought not even to be under suspicion.”

Thus a famous phrase was born – Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion – to serve as an eternal reminder that one is responsible for they company keep, even if that company is misleading about their intentions.

It is a bit of advice Facebook has doubtlessly spent the better part of this week wishing they’d spent more time contemplating, as investors are fleeing, users are staying away and regulators are gathering at their gates wondering if perhaps the world’s most successful social media platform has moved a bit too fast – and broken a few too many things.


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