Facebook: Reluctant But Why?

January 26, 2022

The write up concerns Facebook in Australia. Australia has good relationships with the US. The bonds between Australia and the United Kingdom seem to be in reasonable shape as well. Australia, it seems to me, has been an origin point for some interesting ideas related to online.

Meta Most Reluctant to Work with Government: Home Affairs” points out that Meta (originally just plain old super community minded Facebook) is less enthusiastic about working with Australia’s government than some of its very large, possibly monopolistic fellow travelers.

The write up reports:

In a submission to the House Select Committee Inquiry into Social Media and Online Safety, Home Affairs criticized Meta for not doing enough to protect its users and for not adequately engaging with the government on these issues. In its own submission, Meta said it has “responded constructively” to Australian government inquiries and is “highly responsive” to local regulators.

I think this means that Meta is doing a better job at foot dragging than some other big technology firms. Like Meta’s recognition as the worst company in the United States, the highly responsive outfit has tallied points in the “less enthusiastic” competition.

The Australian government and Meta have other issues which have caused the US company to arm wrestle with Australian officials; for example, encryption of Facebook Messenger content, dealing with Australian media’s interest in compensation for its content, and ideas about privacy.

The write up does not answer the question “But why?”

To fill the void, may I suggest a cou8ple of reasons:

  1. Keep people in the dark. Disclosures about Meta technology, business practices, or data systems might inform the Australian government. With the information, the Australian government could formulate some new ideas about fining or controlling the community focused US outfit. In short, Meta information may lead to meta prosecution perhaps?
  2. Take steps to prevent data moving around the Five Eyes. Information disclosed in Australia might find its way to the US and the UK. Despite these countries’ security methods, some of that disclosed data could seep into the efficient machinery of the European Union. It is conceivable that the risk of becoming even more responsive to Australia increases the risk of EU action with regard to the community oriented social media company.
  3. Circle the wagons to prevent user defections. Cooperating in any way that become public could cause some Meta users to delete their accounts and prevent others in their span of control from using Meta services. This means a loss of revenue, and a loss of revenue has downside consequences; namely, encouragement for other high technology companies to nose into Meta territory.

I want to emphasize none of these ideas appear in the write up cited above. Furthermore, these are views which I developed talking with my colleagues about Meta.

Net net: Meta does not want information about its systems, methods, research, and policies. Frances Haugen, it seems, did not get that email.

Stephen E Arnold, January 26, 2022


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