Tag: Mark Zuckerberg

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Can Washington Solve Facebook’s Problems?


If Mark Zuckerberg’s call for more government regulation of the tech sector had been published today rather than over weekend, some might have thought it an April Fools Day prank. After all, what company or industry wants more Washington meddling?

But there’s good reason for the Facebook boss to make just such an ask. Politicians on the left and the right have been pushing for new rules or even the break-up of the social media giant. And a slew of controversies has damaged its reputation — election meddling, data privacy, and what the company calls “controversial, harmful, and hateful” content — giving a further boost to anti-Facebook activists and pols.


As Facebook celebrates its 15th anniversary, it is coming into controversies on all sides: political, psychological, social, and more. Thus, Jack assembles a panel of youth to discuss their own experiences with Facebook and how it has affected them. They also reveal their thoughts about the site’s effect on themselves, their peers, and society as a whole.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Richard Epstein on Classical Liberalism, the Administrative State, Free Speech, and Silicon Valley Regulation


For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had legendary classical liberal legal theorist and longtime professor at University of Chicago Law School and now at NYU Law — and prodigious Ricochet podcaster Professor Richard Epstein on the podcast to discuss among other things:

  • The role that Professor Epstein’s famous book, “Takings” played in Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing — and then-Senator Joe Biden’s hectoring
  • Professor Epstein’s groundbreaking theories on private property rights, eminent domain and the Takings and Commerce Clauses
  • The practical argument against progressivism
  • Whether we should deconstruct the administrative state, and if so how to do it
  • The danger to free speech emanating from college campuses in a world of microaggressions, trigger warnings, de-platforming
  • The folly of regulating Silicon Valley social media companies
  • Classical liberalism versus socialism and libertarianism

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found or download the episode directly here.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Mark Zuckerberg and Conservative Ideals


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.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Washington’s Bipartisan War On Federalism


The scowling face of the State

With all the talk about America’s vanishing consensus, there remains one major issue which both sides of the aisle are in full agreement: the urgent need to yoke one’s political agenda to the awesome power of the federal government.

Want to know if you can keep your doctor? What about your lightbulb? Your same-sex spouse? Your weed? Better consult with Washington.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Unintended Consequences of Ending the Internet’s Grand Bargain


Is the Facebook kerfuffle really about privacy? Or is there something more fundamental happening here? I’ve written previously about my skepticism that people really value digital privacy as much as the media or activist groups suggest they do. And if Facebook doesn’t see an exodus of users after the Cambridge Analytica maelstrom, that will be a powerful bit of evidence my instincts are correct.

Another bit of evidence is the study “How Consumers Value Digital Privacy: New Survey Evidence, Program on Economics & Privacy” by Caleb Fuller, assistant professor of economics at Grove City College and a faculty affiliate at George Mason University Law School’s Program on Economics and Privacy. After conducting a survey of 1,579 internet users, Fuller found that “85% are unwilling to pay anything for privacy on Google.” And of the 15% of Google users willing to pay, the median was around “a paltry $20 per year.”


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. On Facebook, Regulation, and Unintended Consequences


Among my takeaways from Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg’s whirlwind Washington tour is that Congress thinks the status quo is unsustainable. Of course some politicians might think the “status quo” is the data privacy reality before the pre-Cambridge Analytica scandal. But the social media platform has announced a number of steps to tighten things up since then.

Yet none of those voluntary measures will stop legislators from trying to push new rules on Facebook. As Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, told Zuckerberg:


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Left Thinks Mark Zuckerberg Escaped Danger in Congress. The Right Sees It Very Differently.


Facebook doesn’t seem any closer to data privacy regulation, much less getting broken up, after CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s two-day visit to Capitol Hill than before he came. That’s why Facebook stock rose so sharply during Zuckerberg’s testimony to the Senate and House. Investors saw the same thing everyone did: A smart, if slightly robotic, corporate chieftain easily answering or swatting away questions from tech-illiterate politicians. If Congress has only a tenuous grasp of how the social media platform’s ad-driven business model works, it’s probably not very likely Democrats and Republicans can agree on significant new rules constraining it anytime soon.

But as Team Facebook analyzes their boss’s performance, they should give special focus to his questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Cruz used his five minutes to grill Zuckerberg about his concern that “Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship.” Among the examples Cruz cited: Facebook suppressing conservative stories from trending news in 2016, temporarily shutting down a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day page in 2012, and blocking the Facebook page of President Trump supporters and video bloggers Diamond and Silk.


Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are happy to Republicans senators like Ted Cruz, Ben Sasse, and John Kennedy pin down Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on critical issues like censorship, free speech, and user policies that actually benefit Facebook members. They also react to House Speaker Paul Ryan announcing his retirement, looking both at his record and the increased likelihood that Democrats will take back the House this year. And they have fun with London’s ridiculous new knife control push after 50 stabbing deaths in the city this year, including police confiscating scissors and pliers as deadly weapons.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Some Thoughts About Facebook, Regulation, and Trade-offs


So Mark Zuckerberg is “actually not sure we shouldn’t be regulated.” The cynical take on that statement is that the Facebook founder and CEO is merely acquiescing to the inevitable and even realizes that regulation might actually help Facebook cement its market dominance. A big, successful business with tremendous financial resources has the ability to a) weather a regulatory storm and b) through lobbying influence the regulatory environment to its advantage.

Before Washington takes rash action against Facebook or other Big Tech companies, policymakers should think hard about the potential unintended consequences for competition and innovation. To start with the ridiculous — but something being mentioned on the Twitters — why not nationalize Facebook? Let the US Postal Service run it! Great idea if you want Facebook to be stuck in amber, never to improve or innovate. And what upstart would be allowed to compete against this new National Champion company? There’s also that $100 billion check taxpayers would be writing to Zuckerberg personally, unless we’re talking property confiscation. Moving on . . .


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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Billionaires … In … Space!

A rendering of the “nanocraft” that would be sent as part of Breakthrough Starshot. The lightsail is about a meter wide. The starchip is the little dot in the center.

A Russian oligarch, Mark Zuckerberg, and Stephen Hawking walk into a bar… No this isn’t a joke, but a pretty cool space proposal. Their idea is to launch a fleet of laser-propelled “nanocrafts” that would swarm to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, in a 20-year voyage. It would take about four more years for the mini-probes to transmit photos and readings back to earth.

“The human story is one of great leaps,” said Yuri Milner, billionaire CEO of DST Global. “55 years ago today, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Today, we are preparing for the next great leap — to the stars.”