Nearly a million and a half angry Facebook users are protesting recent changes to the Web site. The leader of the furious online mob? A smiling eighth-grader from Apex who wears his baseball cap backwards and likes to play FarmVille.
His parents were not aware of this.
“He's doing what on Facebook?” asked Jonathan Woodlief's father when the Observer called their home near Raleigh on Tuesday night. Then David Woodlief and his wife, Claire, got Jonathan, 14, out of bed. He came downstairs and explained just how he happened to become the leader of one of the fastest-growing viral movements online. The group was booming by more than 100 new members a minute on Wednesday.
Adding a twist, Jonathan Woodlief just happens to be a dead-ringer for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, another social media whiz kid, who is only 11 years older than Jonathan.
Jonathan is the administrator of the Facebook group CHANGE FACEBOOK BACK TO NORMAL!!, which has exploded over the past six days in response to unpopular changes the site made to its News Feed feature. The feed now shows only those friends Facebook deems “important” to you.
Maybe innocence helps a cause. Jonathan added a note to the side of the group page that reads:
Lets try and get 10,000,000 people to join! :)
Jonathan did not start the group, but joined it a day after it was started because he dislikes the changes. Poking around on the page, he noticed that the group had no administrator, the person who configures the page, allows posts, and makes rules for the group. Believing in the cause – and perhaps sensing an opportunity – “I clicked a button to make myself the admin, and that was it,” he says. Since then he's been inundated with messages and friend requests from around the world.
“We had no idea,” David Woodlief said after the situation became more clear. “He's a smart kid.”