For years now the walls of Silicon Valley have been impenetrable by outside voices, change however may be afoot. We need to understand that the business model that is shared by all these internet platforms encourages the worst elements of society, a hunger for stimulus, information and opinion.
One-third of the world’s population is on Facebook, the tech company Mark Zuckerberg is the co-founder, chief executive, board chairman and majority shareholder of. This was not seen as a problem in the early years as Facebook worked its mission to bring the world together on the social media platform but as the company continues to grow at an exponential rate the failings become increasingly evident.
At Facebooks annual developers' conference in April Mark Zuckerberg joked “I know that we don’t exactly have the strongest reputation on privacy right now, to put it lightly,” but this was not received well by the audience as this nonchalant approach to users data has left the community annoyed ‘to put it lightly’.
The opinion of the user, politician, regulator and investor is now for Mark Zuckerberg’s position to be diluted, whether he likes it or not, to levy Facebook's growth with the protection of the user.
Ashkan Soltani, former chief technologist at the FTC said “I think Facebook has consistently, aggressively violated consumer privacy”
Facebook was hit with a record-breaking $5 billion fine in July as a consequence of the Cambridge Analytica debacle but the real issue here is Facebook's ability to take this in their stride and offset fines against the growth achieved by abusing user’s data in the first place. In short, it’s a risk worth taking for Zuckerberg.
Investors have got together to demand an independent chairperson should replace Mark Zuckerberg’s position on the tech giants board but unfortunately, Mark Zuckerberg personally holds the majority of the votes and shows no signs of relinquishing his position at this time. Which in itself underlines the big issue here – Don Zuckerberg.
Facebook investor and former mentor to Zuckerberg, Roger McNamee said "I don't believe there's anyone around who tells him what he needs to hear at this moment in time,"
Tech giants Google are also facing internal unrest as employees stage walkouts over what they deem bad business practice ethics.
Last year senior engineer, Jack Paulson quit after Google decided to enter the Chinese market. In an open letter, Jack said “I view our intent to capitulate to censorship and surveillance demands in exchange for access to the Chinese market as a forfeiture of our values and governmental negotiating position across the globe,”
At the core of both search and social tech companies is the reliance on advertising for revenues. The most impressionable and interactive content is one that creates shock and often controversy and for a long time the algorithm actively promotes this content to our social and search platforms, an honest mistake as the algorithm bases quality of content on interaction, but one the likes of Facebook took too long to address and in fact rode the wave all the way to bank. The impact on the user can sometimes be lasting and sour, but as we become more and more addicted to social platforms, the negative feedback loop will continue.
Is it time for the government to wake up and take a look?