Mark Zuckerberg Runs a Nation-state, and He’s the King
Thanks to decades of research on political economy, we know how hard it is to check the powers of a king.
By Henry Farrell, CASBS director Margaret Levi, and Tim O’Reilly
This article first appeared on April 10, 2018, in Vox. CASBS thanks Vox Media for permission to re-post this excerpt.
“In a lot of ways Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said.
He elaborated on this claim in a recent interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein. After noting that the Facebook community consists of more than 2 billion people around the world, he wondered if executives “sitting in an office here in California” were the right people to be making decisions for a constituency of that size. He asked, “How can you set up a more democratic or community-oriented process that reflects the values of people around the world?”
It’s good to see Zuckerberg starting to grapple with Facebook’s political responsibilities. But Zuckerberg and Facebook face far bigger challenges than he acknowledges in the interview.
As the technology writer Zeynep Tufekci has argued, it may be nearly impossible for Facebook to reform itself, given its underlying business model. And even if Facebook can reform itself, it faces some extraordinary challenges in building trust with its users and regulators.