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Facebook's ethical failures show the need for competition

wallpapers News 2021-10-13
Last week, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee turned whistleblower, testified before the Senate, revealing to The Wall Street Journal thousands of internal documents that showed how Facebook's algorithms bred discord.
As she said in her testimony, "Facebook repeatedly encountered conflicts between its own profits and our safety. Facebook consistently resolved those conflicts in favor of its own profits."
Over the past decade, antitrust enforcers have looked the other way as Facebook consolidated and extended its dominance by buying up competitive threats.
Without Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram would be different companies with different incentives.
Before the acquisition, WhatsApp's founders explicitly refused to build a company around monitoring ads and extracting user data.
As they said in June 2012, "When advertising involves you, the user is the product."
Similarly, before its acquisition by Facebook, Instagram focused on improving the quality of its platform, rather than simply increasing virality at all costs.
As Sarah Frier wrote in her book "No Filter," Instagram's founders opposed the re-share button because it would "diminish the power of the behavior of the models who show it;
Everyone will be focused on going viral."
While neither deal was challenged by antitrust enforcement, we now know that Facebook's acquisition of these companies -- and others -- was part of a well-documented pattern of killing off competition.
In documents obtained by the subcommittee, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, told the company's former chief financial officer in 2012 that the goal of acquiring emerging rivals like Instagram was to eliminate competitive threats and maintain Facebook's dominance.
In other internal documents, Facebook executives similarly described the company's acquisition strategy in 2014 as a "land grab" to "strengthen our position."
After those acquisitions, Facebook began pushing for changes at WhatsApp and Instagram that made those products less secure, resulting in WhatsApp and Instagram becoming less secure.
In each case, the changes are fueling addiction at the expense of user privacy, safety and security.
The company's co-founder resigned in 2017 amid Facebook's efforts to monetize WhatsApp through targeted advertising and business messages.
Less than a year later, Instagram's co-founder reportedly left the company after Facebook refused to provide it with adequate resources to safeguard the health and safety of its users on the platform.
Since then, we know the true cost of this integration.
With surveillance and exploitation becoming the Internet's business model, users can't choose any other way, and competition and choice will make Facebook a more trustworthy company.
At the same time, the Internet has become increasingly hostile to the competition and innovation needed to compete with Facebook and other platform monopolies.
There is more at the heart of the problem than market failure or consolidation.
Fundamentally, it's about what kind of society we want to live in and whether our economy is capable of enabling businesses to succeed by fighting for economic survival to create better products and a better future.
But we have other options.
Before the acquisition, WhatsApp's founders explicitly refused to build a company around monitoring ads and extracting user data.
As they said in June 2012, "When advertising involves you, the user is the product."
Similarly, before its acquisition by Facebook, Instagram focused on improving the quality of its platform, rather than simply increasing virality at all costs.
As Sarah Frier wrote in her book "No Filter," Instagram's founders opposed the re-share button because it would "diminish the power of the behavior of the models who show it;
Everyone will be focused on going viral."
While neither deal was challenged by antitrust enforcement, we now know that Facebook's acquisition of these companies -- and others -- were  part of a well-documented pattern of killing off competition.
In documents obtained by the subcommittee, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, told the company's former chief financial officer in 2012 that the goal of acquiring emerging rivals like Instagram was to eliminate competitive threats and maintain Facebook's dominance.
In other internal documents, Facebook executives similarly described the company's acquisition strategy in 2014 as a "land grab" to "strengthen our position."
After those acquisitions, Facebook began pushing for changes at WhatsApp and Instagram that made those products less secure, resulting in WhatsApp and Instagram becoming less secure.
In each case, the changes are fueling addiction at the expense of user privacy, safety and security.
The company's co-founder resigned in 2017 amid Facebook's efforts to monetize WhatsApp through targeted advertising and business messages.
Less than a year later, Instagram's co-founder reportedly left the company after Facebook refused to provide it with adequate resources to safeguard the health and safety of its users on the platform.
Since then, we know the true cost of this integration.
With surveillance and exploitation becoming the Internet's business model, users can't choose any other way, and competition and choice will make Facebook a more trustworthy company.

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