Facebook’s not the monster

I’ve just listened to the NPR Politics Podcast coverage of Laurie Haugin, the whistleblower who was formerly a product manager at Facebook and who released thousands of documents to the media and congress, documents that she says show Facebook is aware of the damaging nature of the choices they make and choose to continue harming society in favor of greater profits. That was one sentence.

It’s not interesting that somebody at Facebook or anywhere else in the world says it’s a monster. It’s not interesting that Congress will act interested in this. And because it’s a given, nothing will be done. During the podcast, one of the “hosts” asked if this whistleblowing fell in either category of whistleblower events that cause real change:

1) Shocking new information (clearly not)
2) Information about something that we have already known (nodding), but that shows the company is aware of the damage they’re causing and complicit in covering up their knowledge and/or continuing on their merry way.

Sure, this is a #2 style whistleblower event, but the problem is nobody knows how and/or has the political will to legislate this shit. The Republican party will absolutely die on the hill of “even corporations like Facebook are granted their first amendment rights, so we can’t tell them what to do”, even though that’s utter bullshit. So, even though everybody knows Facebook is a horrible thing that’s rotting our society from the inside, nobody’s going to do anything about it. Because we’ve all agreed that human ambition and a sense “manifest destiny” are beyond reproach, at least in this country, and we’re going to ride that doomed train straight to the end of the world (read: Climate change). So, Facebook’s not the monster, we are.

That escalated quickly…

Well let’s not end on such a bummer note. What should we do then, happy helpers! I say we roll up our shirtsleeves and put together bills to figure out how to legislate Facebook. Establish an oversight committee with access to social media companies that can study the effects of their decisions and mandate changes? Something else? What do you think? (And while we’re at it we can try to legislate all the shit around us that’s going to burn down and dry out the entire fucking planet.) Sorry, that got dark again, but there’s just a whole lot of anxiety in the life of a parent of young children in the world today when we have to live through “smoke season”.

Published by Bill Weisberger

High school chemistry teacher, living in Rome, Italy with my wife and our dog.

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