Look Beyond Big Tech Investments

Last Monday, Facebook experienced an outage that lasted for about six hours. Users couldn’t access Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Whatsapp, or OculusVR. 

The effects were felt across the world. Suddenly, everyone who relied on Facebook or WhatsApp for communication was left in a lurch. Even Facebook’s own employees had to rely on Outlook emails and Twitter (ouch!) to communicate. 

The outage came a day before whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress about her experiences at Facebook.

When she took the stand, Haugen called on Congress to change the business incentives that encourage Facebook to highlight harmful content for its users. And to push the company to be more transparent. 

“It is unaccountable until the incentives change,” Haugen said. “Facebook will not change.”

Haugen also urged lawmakers to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields internet companies from legal liability for its users’ content. She said the rules need to be changed to make Facebook responsible for its algorithms, which are used to rank content. 

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) answered Haugen’s call: 

Here’s my message for Mark Zuckerberg: Your time of invading our privacy, promoting toxic content, and preying on children and teens is over. Congress will be taking action. You can work with us or not work with us, but we will not allow your company to harm our children and our families and our democracies any longer. Thank you, Ms. Haugen. We will act.

Looking Forward

Haugen’s testimony is only adding more fuel to Congress’s fire. Regulators have been coming after big tech for months. Over the summer, lawmakers have proposed six different bills aimed at reining in big tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. 

Whether the bills will pass in the Senate this year is questionable. But eventually, regulators will clamp down on big tech.

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William K. 21 hours ago Member's comment

A very good article. Thanks for sharing it with us.