Wealthy and powerful entrepreneurs have always played a crucial role within society, being able to influence people and put pressure on governments towards a specific goal.
No matter if a company’s stance upon a social issue is ethical or not, companies have never substituted or acted on behalf of a government. No matter how influenced public officials may be, important infrastructures have always been managed or regulated by central governments, not private corporations themselves.
Watching recent Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony, I found ironic how elected US Senators were grilling Facebook’s CEO on matters of security and privacy. Since when a citizen is depending on a private firm to protect its fundamental rights such as access to information, privacy and securiy? American lawmakers are expecting of Zuckerberg to police it’s platform and ask for explanations over a data breach case. Isn’t that an assumption of incompetence?
Part of Cambridge Analytica’s iconic (even historic) case, is the fact that the ads run by the related advertising campaigns were misleading reproducing fake news. The same way that authorities take down a billboard or tv advertisement because of its unsuitable content, they should have acted to take down similar misleading information advertised through Facebook. Why didn’t they?
Governments around the world rely on Facebook to censor the content produced through its platform simply because they don’t have the ability to create related teams due to limited resources and unfortunately unskilled stuff.
If I get stabbed inside a café, is the owner responsible to find the villain or the police itself? Why should Zuckerberg apologize for a crime convicted inside his company’s “property”? Because governments have not decided and implied the regulations needed to make sure that innovative services, such as Facebook’s social media platforms, operate under their power.
Huge corporations have moved far beyond governments and regulators that fall short in understanding the rapidly developing technological capabilities. This way, corporations are putting huge weight on their shoulders. Overtaking lawmakers’ ability to understand and evaluate a threat they are not solely becoming key society influencers, even replacing traditional law enforcement, but also ethically responsible.
This power shift creates another very interesting issue that, this time, concerns users. Deciding which platform you use and consequently, which company and CEO you trust and are willing to give power to, is a very important process similar to that of voting.
By allowing a company to mess with very sensible matters that concern you personally, you give power to the company’s management to take decisions on your behalf. Exactly as it happens with political representatives.
Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple and their services are not public commodities, or are they? Will the political establishment win back the power battle or lawmakers will continue to seem weak compared to the industry experts?
[Image by AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais]