In today’s technological climate, we are often bombarded by news and ads on social media platforms while we use our state-of-the-art devices. One such platform we hear about in particular, and usually not for a decent reason, is Facebook.
Facebook is one of the world’s largest social media platforms, with 2.27 billion people worldwide on it. Lately, the company has found itself at the center of several privacy breach scandals. These incidents have led to prominent politicians from both sides of the aisle, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, to call for government regulation of large social media companies. This would be neither a good policy position, nor a decision based on good principle.
In terms of privacy concerns, there are multiple federal laws on the books in the U.S. to stop Facebook from misusing its users’ info. If they are caught breaking those laws, they can be punished accordingly. Despite what some may think, Facebook is monitored by organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission, which imposed a massive $5 billion fine on the social media giant last year after the company began sharing its consumers’ data with third parties without notifying its users.
This is not an isolated incident. Facebook has done other interesting activities that have caused concern. In 2018, Facebook was told to stop tracking Belgian citizens on the internet by following their online cookies. Later in the same year, it was discovered that Facebook had tried to cover up a recent hack that led to rogue apps data harvesting Facebook users’ private information.
Breaches in privacy have led to bipartisan calls to establish more government oversight on companies like Facebook.
The problems with solutions such are threefold. First, they open up Facebook to political exploitation to the people who would work on those government committees and vice versa.
Regulations could hamper Facebook’s, and other large media companies’, ability to innovate and develop new technology by making the companies jump through potentially needless bureaucratic loops. On a principle level, Facebook has a user terms agreement that gives them the right to expose their users to ads and use their data under certain circumstances.
If we allow the government to step in and dictate to Facebook what they can and can’t put in their own agreements, we are essentially nationalizing the company and others like it.
While advocating for regulations on companies such as Facebook may come out of good intentions, an oversight committee would be excessive and open to political exploitation. Further involvement would threaten the private nature of the company. The regulations could slow down technological progression.
Facebook and other companies are currently held accountable and monitored by the U.S government.
If consumers still don’t feel that Facebook is being held accountable, despite the fact they are, then they shouldn’t put themselves under its umbrella. The answer is not to crack down on Facebook.