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The social web is broken.
And not just a little, or just recently, argues my colleague Adrienne LaFrance, who has been writing about media and technology for more than 15 years. Central to that brokenness is the unprecedented scale—or megascale, as she calls it—of Facebook. The company’s huge reach is a fundamental part of what it is, but it’s also a grave threat to humanity.
“Today’s social networks, Facebook chief among them, were built to encourage the things that make them so harmful,” she writes. “It is in their very architecture.”
Here are three reasons why the company is so dangerous, as explained by Adrienne:
1. It prioritizes scale above all.
Somewhere along the way, Facebook decided that it needed not just a very large user base, but a tremendous one, unprecedented in size. That decision set Facebook on a path to escape velocity, to a tipping point where it can harm society just by existing.
2. And, in doing so, it allows the worst parts of humanity to go viral.
Facebook is an agent of government propaganda, targeted harassment, terrorist recruitment, emotional manipulation, and genocide—a world-historic weapon that lives not underground, but in a Disneyland-inspired campus in Menlo Park, California.
3. No one company—or person—should retain so much power.
Facebook’s megascale gives [Mark] Zuckerberg an unprecedented degree of influence over the global population. If he isn’t the most powerful person on the planet, he’s very near the top.
One question, answered: Can someone who is vaccinated still spread the coronavirus?