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Facebook’s real problem.

March 27, 2018

As mentioned here several times before, if anyone is so naïve that they think there is any implied right to privacy on platforms such as Facebook or Google, it’s time to wise up.

As for spying on Android phones however, well, that’s definitely a bit more of a problem since you actually do have an expectation of privacy  on your personal phone. That’s why we require law enforcement to get a warrant to record all your calls.

Of somewhat even more concern is whether in the process of collecting and selling your personal information to make money, Facebook also deliberately seeks to manipulate public opinion for the purpose of fulfilling its own political agenda.

Big tech, as publicly noted over and over again, tends toward liberal politics. Mark Zuckerberg has never made any secret of his own anti-conservative political leanings.

His personal politics are no one’s business but his own. But if he, through a company that says it serves anyone, seeks to impose his personal opinions on the nation, it is a big PR problem or worse.

If he has as well, sought to influence or restrict commercial  trade or political outcomes through his company, that’s possibly criminal.

That has earned him, as well as the CEOs of Google and Twitter, an invite  to see the Senate chambers.

To some extent, Zuckerberg displays a type of what’s called founder’s syndrome. You see that in some privately held businesses and nonprofits.

Basically it appears that Mr. Zuckerberg still feels that Facebook is HIS company, and as such, he’ll run it any darn way he chooses.

But it isn’t just his company anymore.  It’s a publicly held entity, as are Alphabet, aka Google, and Twitter.

If we are talking about the corner barbershop, founder’s syndrome isn’t a problem, because the local marketplace will determine whether that’s a successful business strategy.

When you are talking about a globally available information and communication product, the standards should be a lot more rigorous.

Take YouTube (owned by Google) for instance.  It recently refused to allow any videos that deal in any sort of positive way with guns to be viewed on its platform.

That’s putting your finger on the scale in a way that is not just politically relevant, but actually poses a danger by withholding safety information.

It does not however, censor videos that deal with repairing or operating motor vehicles, which kill 3289 people globally per day, every day of the year.  U.S. deaths caused by vehicles average 101 per day, and kill 1600 children under 15 annually. Apparently that’s OK.

That’s outright censorship bias on a public communication platform that purports to be open to all.

Perhaps what we need is to force these companies to publicly state their political biases via a black box warning, so users are warned ahead of time and can make an informed decision as to whether and how to use their product.

Another sad byproduct of all this is that all of these platforms really do provide a service to their users.  People who might have previously sent an email once a month or less can and do now communicate with friends and relatives on a daily basis.

It would be a shame if we lost all the good parts of social media just because of bad decisions by the people in charge of them.


From → op-ed

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