Don’t break up or regulate Facebook. Give users control over their data so that companies like Facebook can’t exist.

From the New York Times, following up on their big Facebook story from earlier this week:

Several top marketers were openly critical of the tech giant, a day after The New York Times published an investigation detailing how Facebook’s top executives — Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg — made the company’s growth a priority while ignoring and hiding warning signs over how its data and power were being exploited to disrupt elections and spread toxic content. The article also spotlighted a lobbying campaign overseen by Ms. Sandberg, who also oversees advertising, that sought to shift public anger to Facebook’s critics and rival tech firms.

The revelations may be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, chief growth officer for the Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s biggest ad companies. “Now we know Facebook will do whatever it takes to make money. They have absolutely no morals.”

I completely agree that Facebook has no morals, and I have believed pretty firmly for a while now that their entire business model is a scam. They tell everyone—users, publishers, and advertisers—that Facebook will be great for them, but because they are a closed silo, the only data anyone can get to support those claims is what Facebook gives them.

Facebook is bad for business, bad for the web, and bad for society.

That said, I think I agree with what Zeynep Tukekci said in a recent conversation with Isaac Chotiner. It doesn’t make sense to really go after Facebook as a company. Break them up or constrain they directly, and some other company will crop up to take their place.

Instead, we should go after the practices that have allowed Facebook to accumulate its enormous pile of user data and make it impossible for them to keep doing that or for anyone else to do it.

  1. I’m aware of it, but haven’t looked in any real detail. I hope it works out, but I’ve lost track of the number of new architectures that were going to replace Facebook, Twitter, etc.

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