EFF has published a detailed guide to regulating Facebook without destroying the internet

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/07/25/fediverse-facebook-finally.html


EFF has published a detailed guide to regulating Facebook without destroying the internet

Easier fix: deletefacefuckingbook


Should we accept the premise, even? How would regulating FB destroy the internet? Perhaps it would liberate the internet / return it to something approximating what we mostly thought it was before FB existed.

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These are great recommendations, of course, which means FB won’t follow any of them. Zuck wants his walled garden and apparently a lot of Americans still long for an AOL-like on-line experience that doesn’t force them to think too much.

What really would make a difference is a change in the regulatory view of what fundamentally makes for an abusive monopoly. The current view is that a monopoly that price-gouges consumers is one that has to be taken down, but since FB doesn’t charge consumers a dime they’re not seen in that light. The environment has to change to reflect that dollars aren’t the only way a consumer can be exploited.

Bad regulation is always an option for legislators who don’t understand tech, who are in thrall to special interests and/or who are authoritarians. The EU’s copyright legislation (thankfully neutered for the moment) is an example:


One thing that Facebook could implement right now, with little effort; every time you login, Facebook presents a box that’s titled “What we learned about you today”. A straight up reporting mechanism that would easily allow you to review what new data Facebook has mined about you since the last time you looked.
This could then be followed up with a facility that allows you to delete elements you are not comfortable with.
Of course, this will never happen as Facebook does not really care about your privacy or subjecting you to fake news. It only cares about the small amount of revenue each individual represents. It is the perfect model of capitalism; every thing and person is reduced to a commodity item.




This all sounds to me like “oh god oh woe how can we even try to begin to deal with Altavista’s unassailable dominance?” (or AOL or Yahoo or cetera). I imagine a significant moiety of Facebook is rubbing its corporate nipples with pleasure at all this publicity emphasizing – however it may be dressed up – that Facebook is a permanent, foundational aspect of the internet.

There’s a place for regulation of the internet – we’re past the Wild West stage when it was wiser to let things play out – and a thorough autopsy of the Facebook disaster would be a fine start. But it should be focused on doing better next time, because the public already has a democratic recourse against the current incarnation of Facebook. It’s called deleting your account, and it’s easier than voting for a politician to do something.

I hear a lot of people getting oddly defensive about how they can’t possibly quit Facebook, and I have a hunch that a lot of it has to do with social / familial guilt. Most of us feel like we could be more present for former friends and (particularly) elderly relatives, and Facebook helps us pretend we’ve done something about that. Except we haven’t, and we all know it.


I don’t like Facebook, and would love to delete it. However, it has, for a very large number of people and organisations, become the default communication method. For instance, I’m currently stage-managing a large theatrical show. The default communication method is Facebook. Without it, I could not effectively be part of important discussions. I might not like it, but everybody else in the production does. I simply cannot take a unilateral stand and not use it.

But you could advocate a change.

Seeing as I have never been on Facebook, anyone who presented me with this dilemma would be told that I do not have an account, will not create one, and that email works just fine.

If only the world were that simple.

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