Somewhere between 87mm and 2bb users of FB had their personal information “compromised” when FB leadership proved without equivocation that moneyed hubris and megalomania are no match for good-old fashioned Machiavellian cunning. Notwithstanding any of the other iterating issues, those who blithely profess government should operate more like business should take a close look at this fiasco inasmuch as it is a textbook study in why a country cannot be run like a company… ANY company. But that’s just a sidebar for this rant.
No one pays any attention to user agreements because the net effect is you either agree to them or you are not allowed to participate — in any service which requires it, not just FB. I clicked “Agree” just like you did and then FB violated what we believed to be the spirit of user agreements — certainly at this late stage in the web — in favor of their own naked self-interests, using the fine print their ethically ambivalent law firms constructed.
FB’s primary uniqueness in this debacle, however, is their inexperienced, snotty leadership. Banks and financial institutions have the same arrogant lawyers, the same oppressive user agreements BUT they have information and data that you and I really care about AND experienced, arrogant AND snotty leadership. And they lose data you care about far more often than FB looses data everyone knows or already has.
As an example, three times in the last two years, our Bank of America, Alaska Airlines Visa card, has been cancelled because, “We have learned your account may have been compromised” so in an “abundance of caution,” they cancelled the card and reissue new. Their message makes it sound like my account was compromised because of something I did — used it online in Starbucks, went out of state, went to Canada, used the ATM inside the strip club, etc. But if you call them to pin them down, you’ll discover THEIR system was compromised. I am unaware of any ask on FB for data, the release of which would be detrimental to me in any magnitude which compares to the data my bank allows to be compromised. In that regard, in the order crescendi of fools, morons and the naive, FB is still well south of the banks.
I don’t object to the FB data release as much as I do what the data release spawned: endless waves of ridiculous propaganda which FB either ignored or was too inexperienced to grasp its purpose; anyone with at least a GED was able to spot or, with only the energy contained in a 12 oz Coke, been able to follow the link and see the theater of the absurd being played out.
Millions of people forwarded these ads, not so much because they believed them, but because they formed the tip of the spear for a particular political position. NOBODY really believes the Jade Helm theories, or anything Alex Jones and Infowars, or that Obama wasn’t born in the US, etc. etc. etc. People send this trash around not because they ACTUALLY believe it, but because it enables their hate for whatever the subject of the propaganda is.
What I want FB to do is police this kind of propaganda; it does NOT inspire reasoned debate as envisioned by the First Amendment, rather it furthers the shutdown of debate by isolating those who might otherwise have a reasoned point. For example, If someone truly believes Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. let THEM post their reasons, rather than “sharing” some incendiary graphic to which no debate is possible or even envisioned by the sharing user.
FB could solve this propaganda virus in two ways:
1. Grow a pair and establish what network television has for decades: a Standards and Practices department that simply allows or disallows questionable content. Network television is open to the public, charges no user fees, is subject to the First Amendment and is nonetheless able to police itself like an adult. I see no reason FB can’t do the same; not everything older than Zuckerberg is without merit.
2. Launch a parallel system which works like so many online services and mobile apps: if you don’t want to see ads, you pay extra. I understand not everyone will want to pay for this (or can pay for it in some countries), but with 2bb users, if 1% (20mm) paid $1/mo, FB would pull in some $240mm/yr, which would likely pay for the effort. This effort would likely only catch traction in first-world countries where users have the means and manner to pay. I get that. But I also get that the voting public in third-world countries are unlikely to be influenced by anything on FB, so those users are likely unaffected by the parallel system.
There is a move afoot to regulate FB, but it won’t be possible to craft legislation that only regulates FB — it will have to regulate all social media, or those same ambivalent lawyers are going to bring the effort to a screeching halt. What this country needs is not more regulation, but rather more common sense… something the present Congress lacks and as will any resulting legislation coming out of it.
Zuckerberg’s mea culpa feels a lot like the Allstate commercial when the precocious teenager walks into his parents' bedroom, confesses to a minor fender bender, and then launches an apology while complimenting their insight — all in an obvious ploy to curry favor, lessen the punishment and feel like he hit a walk-off home run. Do me a favor and start calling it the Zuckerberg hearings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBYTIklIodE
Moreover, now that the toothpaste is well and truly out of the tube, Congress can express their myopic moral indignation and rage, which has otherwise escaped them during the entirety of the Trump Administration. You can expect them to punish FB and Zuckerberg as projections of the rage their constituents have expressed to them for months, more so in recent weeks. This punish party will give Congress at least one thing to point to in the mid-terms as they do their best to distract, mislead and misdirect from the central question: where is the moral authority we expect to run this country?