*** Personal Opinion ***
Tim Cook’s recent takedown of Facebook was a long time coming. Facebook has been an ethical trainwreck since its inception. It enables bullies and terrorists. It claims First Amendment protections for its members and absolves itself of responsibility as a technology platform rather than a publisher.
Though Facebook denies any partisanship, the facts are compelling: Facebook is a Republican-favored institution.
- Analyses of 2016 search activity show that Facebook usage was highest in Republican-stronghold states.
- In 2016, Facebook was most popular in highly racist states that often used racist slurs in their internet searches.
- The third-most powerful predictor of Biden’s 2020 victory was low interest in Facebook.
- Using Facebook data, Cambridge Analytica assisted the 2016 campaigns of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and the overall Republican National Committee.
- COO Sheryl Sandberg lied during the Cambridge Analytica scandal by denying knowledge of a PR scheme to spread a false narrative that George Soros backed an anti-Facebook backlash.
- Peter Thiel, a Facebook board member since 2004, donated $1.5 million to Trump’s campaign one week after the Access Hollywood tape leaked.
Facebook’s ethical failures are tied to its business model, which converts members into products. For years, it sold advertising based on customer data harvested without consent. Now, after being shamed into making an effort to secure consent, Facebook offers confusing menus of data privacy options.
It is only a matter of time before the US starts to regulate Facebook and hold it accountable for harmful content. It is easy to predict, however, that Facebook privacy and harm regulations will be strongly resisted by Republicans.