An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook Regarding Cambridge Analytica, March For Our Lives, and the critical mass of Social Media
I originally posted a variation of this on my Facebook page. But considering you control the algorithms there and people in power like being criticized even less than people without power. I'm posting it here. Free of censorship.
Not too long ago Tim Cook said, "A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you're not the customer. You're the product." Zuckerberg replied, "You know, I find that argument, that if you're not paying that somehow we can't care about you, to be extremely glib," in a recent Vox interview. He went on to say, "I think probably to the dissatisfaction of our sales team here, I make all of our decisions based on what’s going to matter to our community and focus much less on the advertising side of the business."
But Zuck! You failed! On the back of your failure to protect this community rode a conservative army, proverbial horsemen of the apocalypse. Their reach and influence rivals even the mockery of a free media that is Sinclair Broadcasting running scripted promos that tow the Pro-Trump line.
So I confidently aloud, I HATE Facebook. More specifically I hate that Facebook continues to violate my privacy in insidious ways. It's a part of the larger epidemic that is Social Media and it is approaching critical mass. I'm stuck using it because it's become a necessity in my job and in various industries.
Before you get offended, Zuck, please note, I hate guns too. I used to own one. I understand the necessity of them some of the time. Just as I understand the dubious necessity of Facebook. But Zuck, I don’t know how much good you’ve done versus harm. If 50 million+ people’s data were used without their consent. If it could have swung an election here and in other places that have made the world arguably worse.
That’s scary. Like really really scary.
Also scary are the studies that show how sitting in front of screens for hours on end is addicting, depressing, anxiety-provoking, socially isolating, etc. Big Tech people limit or don’t let their kids use the very stuff they develop. I do know it’s made Zuck a really rich Zuck. He says he’s giving back. Like most billionaires pledge. But I don’t see the effects on our world.
It seems like no matter how much power or money anyone has, no big changes happen. It’s not like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Zuck, etc. announced that everyone in Africa has access to clean water and food and basic healthcare. Or that they use the $ to outbid the lobbies and push forward green energy and healthcare and education reforms. Or getting people elected that can make changes. What I do see is the environment and weather getting worse. I see rich people getting richer, poor getting poorer, as the middle class evaporates. Every recent progress has resulted in the establishment pushing back, hard, with no commensurate response from giants like Facebook, Google, or Microsoft.
Why? Because they want to maintain their self-regulation and protect their ass-ets. They figure if they stay out of Uncle Sam's way maybe they'll be left alone. But their cowardice is exactly what allowed so much to go wrong. They'll wind up being regulated anyway. Because they had the opportunity to check and balance corruption and stood idly by. No corrupt artifice will let the spectre of defiance stand. All this denigrates the people and community of this great nation.
The people are continuing their push. Every kind of group is marching, most recently, the March For Our Lives took place around the country. Meanwhile the President that got elected by playing to people’s fears. Potentially informed by Cambridge Analytica / Facebook, left Washington DC before the march today. To go golfing in Florida. At his golf course. Because he’s a billionaire and he owns one. And in so doing cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars. Not so dissimilar from the head in the sand behavior of the wealthy tech elite.
At the same time, scores of college educated people can’t meaningfully participate in the economy because of how much they have to pay in student loans. That they took out in order to get an education that is needed in order to work a job that keeps them out of poverty. This whole thing scares me. Scares me for the kids. What are we leaving them? That’s if they survive school. I’m not saying that to be provocative. I’m saying it because they are saying it. Because they are marching for it.
Is anyone listening?
Zuck, you owe the world a lot more than you have pledged. You owe your daughter a lot more. She will inherit your last name, your wealth and the karma of how you act in the forthcoming days, weeks and months. Will you continue to stick your head in the sand? To defend your position as an extension of the global male ego? Will you step down from Facebook and live a life of extravagant obscurity? Or will you fight with those on whose backs you've made your billions from?
I beg you to fight.
If you don't, people with social media influence and conscience will take a page from Rihanna and Elon Musk's book. They will hit you where it hurts. They will erode your billions, and their fans will follow them.