By: Teri Bernstein
Zuckerberg spins Facebook's involvement in politics
Facebook has been in the news lately--not for its cute baby goat videos, but for its considerable political influence. Mark Zuckerberg's belated and underwhelming response to his company's role in abetting Russian tampering in the U.S election has raised questions about what we as a society have gotten ourselves into. In the New York Magazine article linked below, Max Read asks:
"What is Facebook? We can talk about its scale: Population-wise, it’s larger than any single country; in fact, it’s bigger than any continent besides Asia. At 2 billion members, 'monthly active Facebook users' is the single largest non-biologically sorted group of people on the planet after 'Christians'—and, growing consistently at around 17 percent year after year, it could surpass that group before the end of 2017 and encompass one-third of the world’s population by this time next year. Outside China, where Facebook has been banned since 2009, one in every five minutes on the internet is spent on Facebook; in countries with only recently high rates of internet connectivity, like Myanmar and Kenya, Facebook is, for all intents and purposes, the whole internet."
Mark Zuckerberg seems to have been blindsided by what may have been negative (or certainly unforeseen) consequences of Facebook's market penetration and open access. He conceived this business as aligning with this mission: "Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together." But aren't parts of the world creepier and scarier than many Facebook users would like to be connected to? Moreover, Facebook generates revenue from selling data gathered from its users. And revenue from selling access to its users.
Who is using whom, exactly?
Facebook is not the only trans-national internet business that controls access to information as well as information about millions of users. Interestingly, Ad Age asked this question in 2012: "Will Facebook be an internet behemoth in 10 years?" Time flies. Other behemoths include:
These internet powerhouses will shape the business environment for decades. As such, the questions about what they are, what they can do, and how they can be understood are well worth the consideration of anyone near the beginning of their own working life.
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