Facebook And Common Sense

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and chief executive officer of Facebook (FB), the world’s largest population. In reading his op-ed in the Washington Post, Mark Zuckerberg: The Internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these four areas, I was struck by its similarities to Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense, which for all practical purposes incited the Colonies to rebel against the King. Both of these manifestos deserve to be read in their entirety.

The main difference between the two writings is that Mark Zuckerberg either doesn’t realize or won’t admit that Facebook is not a company; it’s a country. By the numbers, it’s the largest country on Earth.

In short, Facebook does not need to be regulated; it needs to be governed. The question is, how? Should Facebook become a constitutional republic (like the United States), or should it evolve into a benevolent dictatorship (like Rome under Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, circa 161 CE, who is generally recognized as the last benevolent emperor of Rome)?

If you use “of the people, by the people, for the people” vs. “of the people, by Mark Zuckerberg, for the shareholders” as a discussion starter, you will be surprised how quickly your thoughts about regulation evolve.

On March 30, 2019, Mark Zuckerberg wrote:

  • Technology is a major part of our lives, and companies such as Facebook have immense responsibilities. Every day, we make decisions about what speech is harmful, what constitutes political advertising, and how to prevent sophisticated cyberattacks. These are important for keeping our community safe. But if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t ask companies to make these judgments alone.

    I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.

    From what I’ve learned, I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

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Shelly Palmer is Fox 5 New York's On-air Tech Expert (WNYW-TV) and the host of Fox Television's monthly show Shelly Palmer Digital Living. He also hosts United Stations Radio Network's, ...

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