Do People Want A Better Facebook, Or A Dead Facebook?

from the there's-a-difference dept

The question in the title is one that I actually think is worth discussing, because seeing the reactions to both Mark Zuckerberg's announced plans for greater privacy in Facebook's messaging tools, and to Elizabeth Warren's not very well thought out plan to break up Facebook, it seems quite clear that some people just want the company dead at any cost. Indeed, I've seen a lot of people pointing to this AP article, derisively, about how Facebook's plans for more privacy are all a misleading game because the the company might profit from it.

As if that's a bad thing.

For years, we kept getting told that the reason big companies like Facebook and Google didn't treat user privacy very carefully was because there was profit in scooping up all our data, and that there were no profits in privacy. This was seen as a problem. Yet, now that Facebook is exploring ways to provide more privacy and snoop less, some are still complaining that it might profit from it? Shouldn't we want to see business models that align with protecting user privacy? Shouldn't we want companies to realize that protecting user privacy both can and should be profitable as well? Won't that encourage companies to move away from data surveillance business models into ones that are more respectful to end users?

That's why I highlighted the positive concepts in Zuckerberg's post. Because I think it's good to encourage companies to go in the right direction.

But many people, clearly, do not agree. And, as far as I can tell, the thinking is that they don't care about a better Facebook or a Facebook that protects privacy. All they want is a damaged or (even better) a dead Facebook. And, frankly, that kind of thinking makes no sense to me. Look, I'm all for something better coming along and killing off Facebook that way. I'm all for creative destruction -- especially the kind that destroys big stodgy businesses by giving their customers a much, much better experience. But, focusing just on killing off Facebook for no reason other than "company bad" doesn't make much sense. Like it or not, billions of people use Facebook.

And most people can agree that Facebook has a history of fairly egregious behavior at times, but slamming the company for finally doing something positive, doesn't seem particularly productive. It doesn't encourage other companies to do the right thing either. Sure, it makes sense if your goal is just a "dead Facebook," but arguing for a "dead Facebook" for no other reason than you just don't like Facebook is irrational. I want to see more competition in the marketplace, and I'd love to see Facebook not be as dominant. But I'd also greatly prefer a Facebook that is a good actor, rather than a bad one.

Filed Under: antitrust, big tech, consumers, elizabeth warren, mark zuckerberg, privacy
Companies: facebook


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    Sven Golly, 13 Mar 2019 @ 9:45am

    The only good Facebook is a DEAD Facebook.

    That's because of corporate attitude which is NOT going to change. Social media as such is okay because simply The Public wanting to Publish for themselves without corporate control as Section 230 actually authorizes, NOT your view that mere "platforms" can suppress and control all 1st Amendment.

    If an ISP took the power that YOU claim Section 230 authorizes, then mere networks / hosts can TOTALLY control YOUR access to teh internets! An ISP would be able to throttle / remove YOU for apparent piracy and torrenting! Why do you object to that degree of arbitrary control when an ISP but say it's okay for GOOGLE / FACEBOOK? Social media is to be not much more than wires: NEUTRAL CARRIER, not goddam censors, PERIOD.

    Now, your sentence here has unnecessary commas which are Freudian slip:

    But many people, clearly, do not agree.

    The commas imply that those who want Facebook dead see clearly, and you go on to confirm that by next two sentences which state that YOU don't see clearly and don't understand. Freudian, I tells ya.

    Otherwise, this is rather minimal version of your usual trying to gin up some controvery for fanboys, smear opponents as extremists, and shift discussion to new safer topic.

    By the way, nearly all problems with Facebook and every other corporation besides The Rich would be greatly reduced by taxing the hell out of them so that they to struggle for profit and focus on SERVING not RULING. It's the easy, fair, entirely proven by actual practice for 30 years when the country was becoming more fair, mechanical, no-politics way to improve society. As me, Bernie Sander, AOC, Bill Gates a bit, and others advocate. -- And everyone here should support it because you aren't Rich, and never will be while let Born Rich rule like royalty.


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