Another interesting press release from “Freedom From Facebook.”:
Washington, DC – In an op-ed for The Daily Beast, Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Open Markets Institute, calls for swift government regulation of Facebook. As a guide, Lynn suggests the example of AT&T, in which the corporate giant was made to spin of its telegraph business and share out key patents. Ultimately, Lynn believes to fix Facebook, the government must start by reforming the glaring issues within the conglomerate’s business model; namely, ad-based revenue.
The op-ed can be read in full here and is excerpted below:
In short, rather than serve the American people, Facebook manipulates the American people to serve its own private interests. And the model serves Facebook’s executives incredibly well. Last year, the corporation earned $40 billion from advertising—accounting for almost all of Facebook’s revenue.
The Facebook team has proposed some ideas for fixing itself. Last month they called for the United States to adopt European-style privacy regulation. Yesterday Zuckerberg spoke of creating a “supreme court” outside of Facebook’s direct corporate control to help police its content.
But Zuckerberg and the rest of his team have adamantly opposed any change to Facebook’s business model. When Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier this year criticized Facebook’s manipulation of its users, Zuckerberg called Cook’s comments “extremely glib.”
Facebook’s goal, Zuckerberg said, is to help “connect everyone in the world.” An “advertising-supported model,” he said, “is the only rational model.”
We agree that it matters how much a vital public service costs. But here too, the AT&T model proves Zuckerberg wrong. Under the direction of the U.S. government, AT&T executives developed a system almost universal in nature, one that served poor Americans almost as well as it served the rich.
More fundamental, it’s now clear that Facebook’s advertising-based business model is anything but cost-free. To use its service, we must share our most intimate secrets with strangers. And make ourselves subject to price and information discrimination. And cede fundamental decisions over what we read to a powerful corporation. And, as was made amply evident this week, trade away much of the cohesion of our society and the stability of our democracy.
“Freedom From Facebook,” a diverse group of organizations sharing deep concerns about Facebook’s extraordinary power over our lives and democracy, is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to use its broad authority to break up Facebook’s monopoly and re-establish competition in the social networking space by spinning off WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger into independent businesses. Freedom From Facebook also calls on the FTC to develop interoperability standards, so users will have the freedom to communicate between competing social networks, as well as implement strong privacy rules to give users more control over the collection and utilization of personal information. Learn more at freedomfromFB.com.
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