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The hassling of Zuckerberg rankled until I was compelled to write a political post, something I have rarely done in almost a decade on Facebook. It’s been up for 15 minutes as of this writing. I foresee either regretting the post, or having it panned. Or both.
There is a Facebook-related issue that is bothering me, so I will opine on Facebook. I have only a surface knowledge of the concerns for which Mark Zuckerberg underwent Senate questioning. What I find disturbing is the optics of hauling in for grilling this private citizen who happens to own a hugely successful venture. In listening to some of the proceedings, I felt like senators were pandering to the public by addressing Zuckerberg as if he were a criminal over a couple of points: a.) a data harvesting practice that I’m sure is widespread over the Internet, and not just a Facebook problem; and b.) an alleged favoring of the left side of the political spectrum in censoring or promoting posts.
Now, Zuckerberg is a key figure, and maybe the public is benefiting from an exploration of Internet-related problems. But it didn’t need to come across as if Zuckerberg were a criminal from the outset. As far as data harvesting, I do agree that this is likely a problem. We are in a new era of Internet commerce, and I think that over time, we will adjust as far as regulation, privacy settings, individual awareness, etc. I agree that Zuckerberg could offer helpful information to aid us going forward. Questioning him should have been presented as a request for partnering with his fellow citizens in finding a solution to data-stealing thieves, privacy issues, and more. Facebook settings should be clear and user-friendly for setting up the exact FB experience that we want, and we may need more immediate notifications in cases where more than general personal data is being farmed.
As far as the taking of general information for the purposes of advertising and marketing, I think that if we don’t like it, there are a couple of solutions: 1. Don’t use Facebook; or 2. Publicize the issue until businesses have to change their model to stay viable. Bringing to bear the force of the law on everything we don’t like can cause unintended consequences. For instance, regulation of minutia on Facebook could bog down small businesses. We have many other options before we pile on even more new laws.
In regards to promoting leftist views and helping them to trend, first I’m not surprised, as there probably are many leftists in FB’s employ. A mainly conservative company would promote conservative views. That is their right, as they own the company, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Second, I’ve not seen much evidence of conservative views squashed on FB. I see memes, quotes, and discussion from all spheres of political thought. Third, a wonderful thing about this country is that we conservatives are free to start our own version of FB, and if we make a superior product, we’ll attract customers and be successful, and be able to promote any views we want. That’s how it works.
To be clear, Mark Zuckerberg is probably not an angel. But I did not think the bearing or style of the senators in questioning him was just to him or productive for the country.