TECHNOLOGY

The latest Facebook scandal seems like a Big Tobacco moment, some say. It’s a big oil moment, too.


Senator Richard Blumenthal mentioned a familiar metaphor At Facebook’s whistleblower hearing on Tuesday. “Facebook and Big Tech are having their own big tobacco moment,” he said, noting that social network products “can be addictive and toxic to children.” Francis Hogan, the aforementioned whistleblower, likewise Facebook’s decisions were “disastrous” and said the company was “choosing profit over safety.”

Do these phrases remind you of Big Tobacco? certainly. It also makes me think of Big Oil.

At its best, Facebook products are a resource that has done some good. (It can be connecting people online something strong!) The company also produces an endless amount of by-products that lead to a lot of unwanted effects. (help destroying democracy It wasn’t exactly part of Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to take over the world.) With nearly 3 billion users around the world, Facebook isn’t going away anytime soon.

The Big Tobacco metaphor does a good job of framing Facebook products as unhealthy. The only problem with comparing the two is that you can easily avoid cigarettes these days. But it is actually very difficult to spend a day on the Internet Without interacting with Facebook.

Enter the oil borrow. Just like Facebook, there are advantages to fossil fuels. Oil and gas have historically provided us with relatively cheap and seemingly plentiful energy supplies. This led to great inventions such as the internal combustion engine and the cars it powers. But just like Facebook, fossil fuels come with a lot of downsides – like how we depend on them destroys the planet – But it is almost impossible to imagine the world working without it.

Most of us can’t quit Facebook. The entire world cannot easily switch to and move to a new platform. At this point, we are so dependent on Facebook products that we suddenly turn them off It can stop entire economies. We saw this run on Monday, when a server configuration error caused Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to crash for hours. This may seem like an inconvenience to many people in the United States, as there are plenty of other ways to communicate and do business online. But in the global south, some Facebook products, especially WhatsApp, have become essential services.

“Developing countries like India, Mexico and Brazil are becoming dependent on these free messaging services,” Callum Cellars, social media expert at Ampere Analysis, said. He told the Guardian newspaper this week. “They are often the backbone of communications in these countries. Small businesses and informal economies rely especially on Facebook’s services.”

Sounds a bit like our dependence on oil, doesn’t it? For example, if we woke up next Monday and all the oil and gas on the planet disappeared, the situation would be chaotic. But it wouldn’t be that bad in the US, where the use of renewable energy rising fast, as it will be In parts of Africa and the Middle East. developing countries in these areas highly dependent on fossil fuels for their daily energy needs, and they You have no viable alternative Immediately.

You can extend this measurement as well. Facebook is like the oil industry because Both game significant role in political geography. Facebook, like oil, It makes huge profits while causing untold harm to society. Facebook, like the oil companies of the past year, used to gobble up smaller competitors to increase its dominance in the market. Comparing Facebook to Standard Oil is a very interesting thought experiment, especially when you look at the inverse relationship between public sentiment and government intervention in Standard Oil. Simply put, it was only after people’s opinion of Standard Oil’s monopoly landed in the early twentieth century – Thanks in part to disingenuous journalist Ida Tarbell – that antitrust regulators swept to dismantle John D. Rockefeller’s empire.

What will happen to Mark Zuckerberg’s empire as it faces it? The latest crisis about the damage it does to society It is still unclear, but this time it looks more serious than the scandals of the past. In which certificate Before the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Haugen presented lawmakers with a blueprint for how to reform Facebook, and Senator Blumenthal Zuckerberg called To appear before the panel and answer some questions – specifically about what was recently revealed, like how Facebook knew Instagram was hurting teenage girls but didn’t do anything about it. If he appears this month, Zuckerberg You may encounter some executives in the oil industry Testifying before the House Oversight Committee on climate disinformation.

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