Punishment, not a Break-Up: How to Hold Facebook Responsible

For a while now, amidst the cascade of Facebook misdeeds that have come to light, people have been hungry for some type of fitting punishment against the social media giant.

Let’s do a quick recap of all the things that Facebook has botched recently:

1.) It neglected to stop Russian interference campaigns in the US presidential elections in 2016. Zuckerberg dismissed the public’s and President Obama’s concerns. Then, a year later, he apologized.

2.) Facebook allows the data of tens of million so people to get suctioned up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

3.) Facebook let the New Zealand shooting of two mosques to broadcast for 17 minutes.

4.) The company didn’t stop propaganda campaigns by Myanmar’s military. UN investigators said that the hateful posts and images played a “determining role” in the mass killings of a Muslim minority in Myanmar — a genocide.

5.) Recent reporting has uncovered that Facebook moderators are experiencing PTSD and recurring mental health illnesses from their disturbing daily work, prompting Facebook to raise their wages and mental health access and benefits.

People are angry.

Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate, recently tweeted that “It’s time to #BreakUpBigTech.”

But, breaking up Facebook and its other social media services, Instagram and WhatsApp, isn’t the solution.

Instagram has around 1 billion users and WhatsApp has 1.5 billion, but Facebook is still far and away the largest, with over 2.38 billion.

In a response to a proposed breakup, Zuckerberg said it “isn’t going to do anything to help.”

David Balto, a former Federal Trade Commission policy director, notes that rather than a breakup, which can backfire, “The more appropriate solution is establishing behavioral rules for the entire industry, rather than try to break up a single company.”

People want the industry punished, as well as Facebook, and Zuckerberg, personally.

Eric Silver

Eric Silver is a veteran technology blogger and startup enthusiast that's been covering the global technology scene since the most advanced phones were still folding in half.

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