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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/6/20

An open Letter to Mark Zuckerburg

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What price would you put on the family unit? Its cohesive bonds, the support, love and affection its members offer to one another, the structure of the family unit, the priceless memories, the laughter, the stability it provides as a backdrop to our lives - what dollar value do you think it has? What about democracy? The freedom to participate in open and fair elections? The sense of safety that regardless of who wins an election there will be a peaceful exchange of power? What about the truth itself? What price does it have?

I have to ask these questions because a vast majority of your 100 billion dollars was made from a "social network" that was ostensibly designed to bring people closer together, to enhance the connections between people, to help long lost friendships reconnect and go forward with renewed closeness - for people to meet those of like mind, and who share the same hobbies. It then extended to other uses, organizing community events, to promoting a business or invite relatives to your child's next birthday.

And yet, it seems to have had a vastly different impact on our society. And I can't help but believe it is the result of monetizing those things which before would have been considered priceless. But I guess to you, and many like you, everything has a price. Embedding a social network into the very fabric of our lives and society in general and then turning it into a profit machine - what could possibly go wrong?

Facebook has become a corrosive, toxic, rumor mill rampant with disinformation, harassment, slander and lies. It's character has become bullying and divisive and has done irreparable harm to those relationships it was supposed to enhance.

Only you know whether the devastating impact of Facebook on society was an unintended consequence, if the risks were ever weighed in the calculations at the very beginning, or whether we should believe your claims of naivety in just wanting to create something your children could be proud of. We have all heard your voice strain as you tried to convince Congress that the destruction wrought by your invention was through mere accident. You sidestepped blame for the Cambridge Analytica debacle, adding a solemn promise, in the face of impending regulation, that you would try to "do better" To eliminate "bad actors".

Although it is my own belief that this megolith of misinformation has always entertained darker motives, I will give you the benefit of the doubt for the purpose of this discussion to detail the real facts that you can't deny.

Facebook has woven itself into the fabric of everyday life. By its very design its deep infiltration was an inevitable certainty, regardless of whether this was an intended objective. But it wasn't without a profit motive.

I'm sure as part of your higher education you had to take a few psychology classes, maybe a sociology class and one or two history classes. Even on its face, it is clear that you had to know or have no excuse for NOT knowing the immense position of power that this new facet to human relations would come to assume. Human behavior, group behavior is one of the oldest subjects the history of academia and the massive potential for manipulating and controlling human behavior via the media are extensively documented in history.

Are we really expected to believe that you never asked yourself, "What harm could there be in monetizing an invention which weaves itself into the most intimate human social interactions?"

Now of course we have heard the ridiculous defense that the site is an inanimate tool of communication, a mere forum, and like the inventor of the telephone and you are not responsible for its misuse by individuals.

Interestingly, advocates of gun ownership often make this same argument. That a gun doesn't kill but the person holding it does. But there are laws on the books for gun ownership and punishments for those who use them to do harm. Even vehement defenders of firearms acknowledge that society has laws which regulate and limit the use of certain weapons, like fully automatic weapons, missiles and nuclear weapons based entirely on the devastation they can bring to so many so fast.

When the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light I tried to warn people that Facebook had abused its position of trust by allowing its users to become lab rats in an experiment of mass psychological manipulation. I tried to explain to them how they were unknowingly studied, their likes, their comments were used to psychoanalyse them to target them to manipulate their opinion. But instead of hearing the impassioned concern of a friend, they chose to trust in your new promises of user control. Odd that they should trust a person who had so recently and gravely abused their trust rather than trust a long time friend. That was shocking to me.

Indeed many did delete their accounts. And as stock prices plummeted some minor processes were tweaked. But honestly many users had already become so addicted to Facebook they couldn't imagine their life without it.

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Michele Goddard Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter Page       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I was born in 1970 in Wheeling, WV and have lived here all my life. I come from mostly Irish Catholic coal miners and railroad workers. My original academic interest was in teaching foreign languages studying both French and Spanish in High (more...)
 

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