Facebook exec Nick Clegg went full tobacco company on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday.
As several members of Congress pointed out last week, Facebook is now facing their “tobacco company” moment. Their product is harmful and addictive. They KNOW their product is harmful and they continued to find ways to make it more addictive.
And here comes stage three: blame the user for having a personal problem if they can’t quit.
“I think it varies from person to person. It’s like everything good in life. I would do it in moderation,” said Clegg. “I think everybody needs to decide, of course, for themselves, but it’s like everything that you enjoy. Do it in moderation, would be my personal suggestion, but that’s my general guide for many things in life.”
The Facebook programmers designed their products to be addictive.
But Clegg also suggested (ha) lawmakers need to act.
CLEGG: “But I think if there’s any silver lining to this week is that maybe we can now move beyond the slogans, the sound bites, the simplistic caricatures, and actually look at solutions and, yes — and, of course, regulation. There are certain things that only lawmakers can do. Only lawmakers can amend Section 230. Only lawmakers can introduce federal privacy legislation. Only lawmakers can introduce laws to protect our elections and so on. And that’s not a substitute for the responsibility that Facebook has got as we do to continue to invest as we do on a huge scale. I mean, we invested $13 billion in recent years in how to keep people safe and to sort of safeguard the integrity of our platform. To put that in context, that’s more than the total revenue of Twitter over the last four years. So, we will continue to do that. But in the end, we can’t make all of these decisions and provide all of these societal solutions on our own. That does mean — or does require lawmakers to act as well.”
Facebook donated to the campaign coffers of eleven out of twelve US Senators attending the Facebook whistlebook hearing last week. And Facebook executives donate even more. Is Facebook lobbying for more transparency into their use of algorhythms and targeting of children? Nope. “Safeguarding the integrity of our platform” included buying up Instagram and Whatsapp, to prevent competition.
Congress does indeed need to act. They need to break up Facebook.