BOSTON (CBS) – Raise your hand if you use Facebook, Google, Twitter, or all three.
I see it’s virtually unanimous, and no wonder. None of these internet staples existed 20 years ago. Today, they dominate a social media landscape that is at the center of American social and political discourse. They’ve done a great job reaping profits, and a terrible job living up to the civic responsibilities that go along with that stature.
Get a load of the opening statement by Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch at Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on how his company and others were used by the Russians to poison the 2016 election.
“Foreign actors, hiding behind fake accounts, abused our platform and other internet services to try to sow division and discord and to try to undermine the election is directly contrary to our values and goes against everything Facebook stands for,” Stretch said.
Let’s talk about Facebook’s “values.”
The folks who run it mean well. Founder Mark Zuckerberg is a very philanthropic guy. I doubt there’s a single Facebook employee anywhere who wanted to see the Russians hijack their service. But let’s be candid about it – they really didn’t give a darn before the fact.
Don’t forget that when Facebook was called out for allowing fake news to proliferate during the election, Zuckerberg dismissed it as a “crazy idea” and that’s been their knee-jerk response whenever the dark side of their business practices has been revealed.
Facebook and other social media giants have valued profits over people, and caused a lot of damage alone the way.
Keep that in mind as the process of holding them accountable begins.