Finley: Break up Facebook monopoly
So Mark Zuckerberg is sorry his company violated the trust of 50 million Facebook customers in enabling their personal information to be used by a firm working to elect Donald Trump president?
I’m sorry, too. I don’t like the idea that, as a Facebook user, I may have unwittingly aided an effort to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 election.
But I’m not convinced Zuckerberg’s contrition means the social media mega-billionaire will assure that from here on out, he’ll never use the enormous power of Facebook to sway the electoral process.
I suspect the precocious, T-shirt wearing Zuckerberg is mostly sorry it was Trump who benefited from the mining of his company’s data.
Four years earlier, according to a former campaign staffer, Facebook aided Barack Obama’s re-election bid by ignoring the same sort of capture of personal info that Cambridge Analytica engaged in on behalf of Trump.
The disclosures should be a loud gong to the risks facing our democratic traditions. The Russians — who, by the way, also used Facebook in their ham-handed stab at swaying voters —are pikers compared to this country’s social media giants and their potential to tilt the balloting.
Conservatives already suspect that aggregators such as Google and Yahoo massage their algorithms to bury their viewpoints and favor those supporting progressive causes.
Twitter and Facebook both stand accused of cutting off right-leaning posters from access to their accounts, and deploying their censorship prerogatives to cull conservative commentary from their sites.
The Silicon Valley gang that runs these companies is overwhelmingly liberal, perhaps unanimously so. They are also major donors to Democratic candidates.
If they choose to deploy their companies on behalf of those candidates, they’d form the greatest propaganda machine in history.
This ideological monolith has the power to assure Americans are overwhelmed by their one-sided message, as they are demonstrating in the gun control debate.
YouTube has banned firearms demonstrations videos from its site.
Facebook has taken down pro-Second Amendment pages.
Twitter refused to let students in favor of gun rights participate in its live-streamed town hall following the Parkland, Fla. school shootings.
These companies are the viaducts through which a majority of Americans now receive their news and information. And those who lead them are singularly liberal and Democrat. There is no conservative-led alternative of any note.
If the entire social media universe is aligned with one political viewpoint, without any counterweight, they have the equivalent of market domination over public opinion.
That makes them monopolies. And if they are unwilling to commit to remaining resolutely neutral in the nation’s political and cultural wars, they should be broken up, in the same way railroads, oil companies and financial institutions have been broken up in the past.
Zuckerberg went on a nationwide listening tour a few months back, which led to speculation that he is considering a future presidential bid. It seemed a goofy prospect at the time. But now that we know more about how Facebook is used as a political tool, don’t bet against him.
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