“In America there is a view that capitalism fixes things. In Britain, government usually acts. The Lords select committee on democracy and digital technologies last week was correct to say it was a mistake to allow social media firms to grow unimpeded by regulation. This, the peers said, had “become acutely obvious in the current Covid-19 pandemic where online misinformation poses not only a real and present danger to our democracy but also to our lives”. Facebook cannot be allowed to remain beyond the restraints applied to the rest of society. This message has been received by the UK’s competition authority, which has proposed forcing Facebook to give consumers a choice over whether to accept targeted advertising and even suggested breaking it up.“
And so the Guardian pleads with us to act, to stop Facebook from being a real and present danger to our democracy and our lives. And it is essential that we act.
Certainly, capitalism is not going to solve this problem, Facebook makes money from conspiracy, hatred, misinformation and lies. The more the merrier, so to speak. When we ask them to change, we are asking them to change a business model that while subverting our government and our lives has made them many billions of dollars.
Members of the organization, Stop Hate for Profit, met with Zuckerberg on the 7th of July:
“#StopHateForProfit didn’t hear anything today to convince us that Zuckerberg and his colleagues are taking action. Instead of committing to a timeline to root out hate and disinformation on Facebook, the company’s leaders delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands,” Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González said in a statement.
In the past I have expressed my doubts as to Facebook’s willingness to change, and as I predicted, confronted by serious critics with valid claims, he has nothing more to offer but empty platitudes.
And just in case, you have any doubts about Facebook’s inability to control and limit hate speech, you can now see a two year audit of the platform’s performance. Let me quote once again:
The report blistered with criticism of Facebook for prioritizing free expression over civil rights concerns such as equality and nondiscrimination. It raised concerns over the social network’s policy of treating speech by politicians as exempt from rules other users are required to follow.
“Elevating free expression is a good thing, but it should apply to everyone,” the report said. “When it means that powerful politicians do not have to abide by the same rules that everyone else does, a hierarchy of speech is created that privileges certain voices over less powerful voices.”https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-slammed-in-audit-for-heartbreaking-decisions-that-set-back-civil-rights/
It may very well not be possible to change Facebook by boycott or pubic activism. So what’s left?
The law — we change the legal environment so Facebook is penalized repeatedly and with serious monetary penalties for subverting our democracy and our lives.
For instance, if Facebook could be held liable for lives lost due to the COVID 19 misinformation on its platform, I would bet real money that content will disappear.
If appealing to Facebook’s better angels is unavailing, then what else is left but regulation and penalty to bring it into line with civilized behavior?