Tonight, Mark Zuckerberg responded to the swirl of misery that has engulfed Facebook recently and, I can’t believe I’m writing this, I think he made some good points.
You can read the whole post for yourself here if you want. I’m going to focus on this part of what he wrote:
Similar to balancing other social issues, I don’t believe private companies should make all of the decisions on their own. That’s why we have advocated for updated internet regulations for several years now. I have testified in Congress multiple times and asked them to update these regulations. I’ve written op-eds outlining the areas of regulation we think are most important related to elections, harmful content, privacy, and competition.
We’re committed to doing the best work we can, but at some level the right body to assess tradeoffs between social equities is our democratically elected Congress. For example, what is the right age for teens to be able to use internet services? How should internet services verify people’s ages? And how should companies balance teens’ privacy while giving parents visibility into their activity?Mark Zuckerberg
Is Mark throwing it back on the government here? No. What he’s doing is saying “Don’t make me play by one set of rules while everyone else gets a free pass” and he is exactly right to ask for this. Why should Facebook voluntarily police itself into oblivion when competitors like Twitter or Parler or Tik Tok can do just about whatever they want?
Set the same standards for everyone and you have fair competition in the social media marketplace. Hold Facebook to unique standards and you’ll just see a migration to other services.
Is Facebook complicit in being the best at making manipulative algorithms? Maybe. Does that mean that their competitors algorithms are not manipulative? No. Should Facebook be singled out and punished just because they are the biggest bully on the playground? No. Won’t someone else do the same thing Facebook did if Facebook gets taken down because there is money to be had? Of course.
We did this. We signed up. We use the services to communicate with friends and family and whoever. We use the angry reactions. We stir up the pot online hiding behind screens because it’s a lot easier and safer to be a horse’s ass when you’re not sitting right in front of the people you are being a horse’s ass to.
Social media is not the end of the world and ending it would not suddenly bring peace. The Nazis didn’t need Twitter. Evil always finds a way.
We may find it easy to wag our fingers at Facebook but Facebook is mostly just a mirror image of who we are that is programmed with algorithms to take advantage of who we are. As a society, we have a lot of work to personally because at this point in our history, a lot of people simply can’t respectfully handle the power that social media puts at all of our fingertips.