Facebook recently announced it will be changing its feed and algorithms so that news from publishers and posts from businesses will be relegated in favor of posts about your neighbor’s cat.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook is making these changes because he is concerned about his legacy and that of the company he founded. If Mark Zuckerberg is truly worried about his legacy and that of Facebook, casting legitimate news publishers and businesses into the abyss will only further tarnish an image that is already deeply damaged.
Millions of people are being harassed, unfairly attacked, and maligned on Facebook worldwide. Fake news has proliferated. Children are being bullied and some, sadly, have committed suicide over posts on Facebook. Hordes of people acknowledge they are now addicted to Facebook and suffer from depression, anxiety and a host of other ailments because of it. That is Zuckerberg’s legacy and he needs to take responsibility for it.
Now, after encouraging media organizations and local businesses to spend billions building up their social media presences on Facebook - including paying billions to Facebook itself to increase page “likes” and “follows” - Facebook is changing the game midstream. It has our money and we have no legal recourse.
To cement the unholy legacy, Facebook’s hordes of lawyers and its top executives continue to claim Facebook is not a media company and therefore should not be regulated in any way. They make this argument despite the fact that Facebook has editorial control over content posted on the platform and - with the changes now being implemented – the fact that Facebook is deciding what factors make news sources worthy of being placed in its News Feed.
If Facebook doesn’t want a certain conservative or liberal publisher in the feed or decides a certain local news publisher shouldn’t be there either, that publisher’s social media reach will die, causing it significant economic harm. That’s a lot of power and it’s power that can be abused with scary consequences for our society and for the First Amendment.
The only positive thing to come of all of this is that it may open the eyes of our elected officials, businesses and the American people who will now see Facebook for what it is: An unscrupulous media company that needs to be regulated.