antisocial media: should facebook be banned?

has mark zuckerberg saved the lives of tens of thousands of people?
is mark zuckerberg responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people?
should facebook be ‘broken up’ because it is so enormous, or should it be banned?
should facebook be left alone because it has saved so many lives around the world and provides value to its users?
should facebook buy wechat (1 billion people in china use wechat) to broaden its influence?
should facebook stay out of china? 

mark zuckerberg might be feeling a bit unhappy today. lots of bad publicity, including the front page of the new york times, a story by nicholas fandose and kevin roose, ‘facebook identifies an active political influence campaign using fake accounts,’ and also an hour-long story on democracy now from university of virginia professor siva vaidhyanathan, the author of recent book, “antisocial media: how facebook undermines us.”

in the book, professor vaidhyanathan describes an immense ‘technopoly,’ a monopoly of huge tech companies like facebook, google, and twitter interacting with corrupt governments. facebook and other companies have influenced elections and enabled deadly nationalistic, authoritarian governments around the world. many people have died because of the actions of these governments.

i think i know how mr. zuckerberg might feel, because i’ve felt unhappiness the past month or so (i’ve also felt a lot of joy). i had been working so hard at my job, 18-20 hours a day of workaholism, that led to my burnout and suicidal ideation recently described on this blog (of note, the diagnosis given was ‘depression with psychotic features.’)

but mr zuckerberg might argue he has worked so hard for the past fifteeen years to build a company that has changed the world for the better, bringing technology to the rural poor, and to help it with the chan zuckerberg initiative, which is a game changer.

but now, the anger is building against mr. zuckerberg nd will continue to grow in places where he desperately needs emotional support: cambridge, quincy, and braintree massachusetts; palo alto, san jose, and san francisco, california; ardsley, dobbs ferry, and white plains, new york; exeter, new hampshire; baltimore, maryland.

mr zuckerberg is an obvious target, as more and more people become furious at capitalism run awry, and the interactions between our broken political system and broken economic system. because the “free market” is failing, and anyone who understands economics should have known this months ago. i’m not arguing for socialism or capitalism, i’m just stating a fact that capitalism as we know it is broken. i suspect mr. zuckerberg and mr. trump would agree.

the arguments in favor of letting facebook stick around (until it goes out of business) or takes over google, twitter, and wechat are also compelling. to me they are based in american constitutional law. i care about the united states constitution, and was recently reviewing what chief justice charles evans hughes of the supreme court wrote in 1937:

“the greater the importance of safeguarding the community from incitements to the overthrow of our institutions by force and violence, the more imerative is the need to preserve inviolate the constitutional rights of free speech, free press and free assmbly in order to maintain the opportunity for free political discussion, to the end that government may be responsive to the will of the people and that changes, if desired, may be obtained by peaceful  means. therein lies the security of the Republic, the very foundation of constitutional government. 

will we sit back as dangerous nationalist leaders use facebook to commit pogroms against religious minorities?

or will we speak out?

mr. zuckerberg went to harvard so he’s certainly good at multiple choice tests (i was rejected from harvard, possibly becuase i was not so good at multiple choice tests).

what is mark zuckerberg’s favorite quote?

a) i’m trying to make the world a more open place.

b) i’m trying to make a trillion dollars a month and become president of the world in twenty years.

so what do you think mark zuckerberg should do?

a) nothing major, because this will all blow over in a few weeks. keep trying to align facebook with wechat in china. donate a few billion dollars to the chan zuckerberg initiative to deflect attention from the new york times.

b) refocus on his core application, facebook. break up facebook by selling instagram to the united states government for $1 and selling whatsapp to the united nations for $1. use the positive publicity to get people at the grassroots level to re-engage with facebook. inspire us anew!

c) resign from facebook and run for president of the united states in 2020

d) resign from facebook and focus all his energy on the chan zuckerberg initiative. for example, mr zuckerberg could put a few billion dollars into the nuclear weapons ban movement, go to pyongyang with me, and win the nobel peace prize. zuckerberg and his wife priscilla chan can continue working on education and affordable housing.

e) become one of my coaching clients and learn how to chant the hebrew bible (see the book by joshua jacobson on the art of cantillation).

f) a and e

g) b and e

h) c and e

i) d and e

j) none of the above

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