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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/2/18

What To Do About Facebook -- First Thoughts

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7) Establish whether Facebook violated the 2011 consent decree and, if so, seek court sanctions.

8) Threaten to bring further legal action against Facebook unless top executives immediately agree to work with the FTC to restructure their corporation to ensure the safety and stability of our government and economy.

9) Establish whether top executives enabled, encouraged, or oversaw violations of the 2011 consent decree and, if so, pursue personal fines against them.
Some of these suggestions touch on the behavior of the company relative to its users and data -- numbers 1, 5, 6, and all of those relating to the 2011 FTC consent decree, which "required that users be notified and that they explicitly give their permission before data about them is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established. The developer of the [Cambridge Analytica] app sought permission from those who downloaded it but not their Facebook friends."

Some of these suggestions touch on Facebook as a monopoly -- numbers 2, 3, and 4. Some of them would indirectly but materially affect the wealth of the Facebook owners (but not the political power their wealth purchases).

None of these suggestions, however, directly addresses whether Facebook should (a) be allowed to exist at all; or (b) be nationalized and regulated like a utility, meaning operated in the public interest and not for the acquisition of private wealth and power.

So these are just first thoughts to answering the question, "What should be done about Facebook?" and only first thoughts. Still, they are important thoughts. If something isn't done about Facebook, it will continue to be used as a mass manipulator (and grow more effective as one) by a great many actors not tainted with the "Trump! Russia!" stink -- meaning both American political parties, plus our various special-interest elites, such as the military.

Facebook, Democracy and the Next Sanders-Like Candidate

The implications for our democracy, assuming we have one, are great.

To consider just one, imagine a Bernie Sanders candidacy in 2020 (or a candidacy very like it), with Facebook still on the loose, and conscienceless Establishment operatives, who hate and fear him, willing to "do anything it takes" to protect their insider grip on the political process. No "Trump!" no "Russia!" in this scenario, but an outcome nevertheless as tragic for the nation, as I see it, as the one currently mourned as having already happened.

If 2020 is indeed the last electoral cycle for America to escape the twin tsunamis of, first, chaotic violent revolt against "rule by the rich," and second, the wave of climate chaos that races toward us, it may not matter much who wins in 2020, even if the winning candidate promises nothing more than "let's just get back to normal."

In the post-2020 world, getting back to "normal" may not be enough.

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A writer who contributes to a number of publications, including digby's Hullabaloo, Down With Tyranny, Naked Capitalism, Truthout and Alternet.

On Twitter — @Gaius_Publius

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