Mark Zuckerberg Is a Slumlord
Brian Menegus, writing for Gizmodo:
Facebook is… an entity which extracts monetizable data in exchange for a place to store and grow our digital lives. At its most basic, the relationship resembles that of a tenant to a landlord.
The 2.4 billion people crammed within Facebook’s blue and grey walls are spending their data to rent a digital equivalent of a tenement, constructed to maximize profit at the expense of safety and quality of life.
Sidenote: I went on a guided tour of the Tenement Museum on New York’s Lower East Side in 2007, where they described (and showed us) what a tenement room was like in the late 1800s. It was grim.
The article goes on to make some comparisons to how the authorities (eventually) dealt with the unhealthy and even lethal conditions in the tenements, and suggest that those looking to legislate Facebook need to think along similar lines.
Zuckerberg, who is often criticized as so cautious with his words as to come across as robotic, rarely tips his hand in public. There is one interview however, with Wired’s Nicholas Thompson in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Zuckerberg accidentally gives away his fear of a Facebook where users aren’t living on top of one another amidst heaps of digital refuse.
NT: When you think back at how you set up Facebook, are there things, choices, directional choices, you wish you had done a little differently that would have prevented us from being in this situation?
MZ: To some degree, if the community—if we hadn’t served a lot of people, then I think that some of this stuff would be less relevant. But that’s not a change I would want to go back and reverse.
For Zuckerberg, a man who often says a lot without saying anything at all, there’s no hesitation: between a smaller but potentially more ethically run version of Facebook, and the larger, more profitable one that’s been implicated in data breaches, discrimination, radicalization, electioneering, and genocide, he picks the latter. Perhaps he shouldn’t be the one deciding anymore.