‘On-brand, really’: Zuckerberg wants Congress to crush any possible competition to Facebook, Snowden says
Mark Zuckerberg’s rebuttal of accusations against Facebook and call for action by Congress are just an attempt to have the government protect his monopoly, digital freedoms activist Edward Snowden said.
The CEO of Facebook posted a lengthy reaction to this week’s outage of company services and the congressional testimony of Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who accused the company of various sins, including putting profit before the safety of children.
Much of the essay was a rejection of the accusatory narrative framing, while arguing that Facebook is actually a force for good, interested in the well-being of its users rather than financial benefits or market share. Zuckerberg also said he wants his company to be more regulated, because “at some level the right body to assess tradeoffs between social equities is our democratically elected Congress.”
For example, what is the right age for teens to be able to use internet services? How should internet services verify people’s ages? And how should companies balance teens’ privacy while giving parents visibility into their activity?
In other words, Facebook wants lawmakers to consider the following: “A) legally restricting teen use of internet services; B) identify verification mandates and C) limiting teen privacy,” Edward Snowden tweeted, calling the proposal “on-brand” for Facebook.
Snowden, who is a strong supporter of online freedom and opponent of moves that would give more power to governments over digital spaces, is highly skeptical about Zuckerberg’s motives. Regulations along the lines of those called for by the Facebook CEO would be “modestly burdening the affluent Facebook, but totally crushing its upstart competitors,” Snowden believes.
Since 2004, Facebook has never cared about the law or "social equities." Don't fall for it.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 6, 2021
Zuckerberg suggests Congressional action now only because he is confident the result will serve him—modestly burdening the affluent Facebook, but totally crushing its upstart competitors. https://t.co/ZzmGPKoRuP
Haugen’s testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security focused on how Facebook supposedly ignored harm that its products pose to children and the American society in general. She was touted as a brave ‘whistleblower’ by the mainstream media, but skeptics say her interviews and appearance before Congress are just a public relations campaign meant to whip up support for more restrictions on online speech.
Zuckerberg implied that Haugen was creating a false narrative about Facebooks’ research programs, and that this line of criticism gives tech companies the wrong incentives.
“If we attack organizations making an effort to study their impact on the world, we’re effectively sending the message that it’s safer not to look at all, in case you find something that could be held against you,” he said, warning that this path “leads to a place that would be far worse for society.”
Critics of Facebook, like Snowden, say Zuckerberg is just playing the victim.
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