Mark Zuckerberg is a controversial figure for libertarians. He is an entrepreneur who rocked the Silicon Valley high-tech culture with a social network that revolutionised online interactions in many aspects, very quickly. Before Facebook, social networks were available but didn’t quite strike the cord across generations. Now, you need to be careful not to let that religious old auntie see your naughty Saturday night activities on her feed.
Facebook does have many positive aspects, which I am sure have been fairly discussed, although it doesn’t seem too popular with Libertarians. Most people I meet in Libertarian events have their reservations with online sharing and privacy, some of them detest Facebook. With its countless users and insane activity, the company has become a giant, with many parties influencing and demanding steps to “improve” the experience. Users want more entertainment, more features, more ease of access and so on. Advertisers want good algorithms to target their audience, better placement and of course, an audience. The government wants: all of the above (?).
We all surely know that Facebook, just like Twitter, YouTube and Google, are private companies offering services. We are all exposed to T&Cs and have to agree with them before signing up to any of these platforms. Are they intrusive? Yes. Will the government make it any better? Definitely no.
The whole show of having Zuckerberg in front of a bunch of Bureaucrats, answering questions and being told off like a school boy in front of a principal made the spectacle specially cringe-worthy. There it was, father state, taking care of the people’s interests and privacy, telling off a very naughty boy who tried to make money off the ripped off “customers”. They even sat Mr Facebook on a seat booster for added dramatization. Or shall I say, humiliation?
The show seen last week, for anyone with one half of a wit, was nothing else but a display of State overreaching. It is quite logical to know that if you are not being paid or paying for a service, you are the product, this has always been true about social media. It is common knowledge too, that the US government is the one to spend the most spying on people. The chance that the government uses Facebook and WhatsApp to acquire intel on citizens is probably very close to 100%. So what does this mean?
Well, Facebook had information on its spying habits leaked, rendering the platform untrustworthy and planting seeds of paranoia on previously unaware or non-believing users. This also exposes that such tools and techniques of surveillance are easily embedded and used by… anyone? Questions start being asked about the government using these, or maybe even using them through social media to spy on us. Is the government angry because Zuckerberg got caught selling data collected from tools that were placed to track civilians for the NSA or another agency(s)?
For now, all we know is that Zuckerberg seems to have gone rapidly from the praised prodigy entrepreneur to an example to be made. His fame and success being turned on him with a seemingly grudge from all sides. Let’s keep in mind Zuckerberg owns services that are not mandatory, but that will be officially and heavily regulated, probably even more scrutinised than currently, by the state. The ever reaching fingers of the government, running a Prime Time drama, to play the good guy, while institutionalising your privacy, or the lack of it.
Featured Image cc-by-sa. With thanks to Ian Kennedy