Meta: Big Numbers, Bigger Problem

December 22, 2022

The European Union has been fiddling around with modest fines on outfits like Meta (the Zuckbook to the Arnold IT research team). Now the scale of fines is ratcheting up. “Meta Faces $1.6bn Lawsuit over Facebook Posts Inciting Violence in Tigray War” reports that Kenya is pegging the fine in nine figure territory. Will the Zuckbook write a check for more than $1 billion. Probably not.

The write up states as real news:

The lawsuit, filed in the high court of Kenya, where Meta’s sub-Saharan African operations are based, alleges that Facebook’s recommendations systems amplified hateful and violent posts in the context of the war in northern Ethiopia, which raged for two years until a ceasefire was agreed in early November. The lawsuit seeks the creation of a $1.6bn (£1.3bn) fund for victims of hate speech. One of the petitioners said his father, an Ethiopian academic, was targeted with racist messages before his murder in November 2021, and that Facebook did not remove the posts despite complaints.

What’s interesting is that the lawsuit puts a price penalty for the alleged action or inaction of the Zuckbook. Thus, when harm to individuals can be linked to an online action, the Kenya lawsuit means that other governments may set similar targets.

Net net: It may be expensive to implement the Silicon Valley, high technology “we want to bring people together and do good” under the umbrella of move fast and break things. The fines could, despite the Zuckbook’s revenue prowess, break the bank.

How long has the Zuckbook been using its methods for its advantage? A decade or more? Kenya may be taking steps to make the Zuck wish his company could go back in time and approach the company’s behavior in a slightly different way. If the Zuckbook wins, the Zuckbook may go full speed ahead and become even more frisky: TikTok-type videos on steroids, amped up data collection, and creating a super app designed to make bad actors drool. Disappearing messages. What’s not to like?

Stephen E Arnold, December 22, 2022


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