Defriending Facebook? Harsh

April 24, 2019

Whether it was earnest advice or a public-relations ploy, we’re told Mark Zuckerberg’s recent call for regulation would not actually fix the problems with Facebook. Canada’s CBC News describes “The Case Against Facebook: a ‘Dataopoly’ with Too Much Market Power.” I was interested in reporter Ramona Pringle’s explanation of a “dataopoly;” she cites Carleton University professor Dwayne Winseck, who teaches about Internet governance:

“[Winseck] says with its behemoth scale and singular control over the data of its users, Facebook is a ‘dataopoly.’ A company with a monopoly in a traditional, non-digital industry is able to charge consumers higher prices for goods or services due to the lack of competition. In the case of a dataopoly, the results of that unrivalled power can be less privacy, degraded quality of service, and political and social consequences, writes Prof. Maurice Stucke, an antitrust expert at the University of Tennessee College of Law. With more than two billion users who have few, if any, alternatives to the massive social network and its various platforms — which also include Instagram and WhatsApp — there is little incentive for Facebook to change the way it does business. Winseck says this is clear in the company’s ‘take-it-or-leave-it terms of service.’ Even if a user is uncomfortable with some of the Facebook’s practices, if they want to use the social network, they have no choice but to grin and bear it.”

On top of that, we’re reminded, Facebook keeps a tight grip on everything that crosses its platform, like the nature of its services, how advertisers can target users, and what it really does with all that juicy user data. The only real solution, Pringle insists, is the breakup of Zuckerberg’s company. Like others, this article is skeptical of Zuckerberg’s motives, noting that, for various reasons, Facebook could use some good PR about now. If this was the goal, did it backfire?

Cynthia Murrell, April 24, 2019


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