Facebook Hysteria

With social networking hearings taking place on the hill and pundits repeating the same information to the point that it becomes almost comical, the question must be asked, “Is Facebook inherently evil?” The answer, I suspect, is probably not. Not if you block all those you want nothing to do with, unfollow all those others you don’t want to hear from, and then have the smarts and the stomach to ignore the ads and political nonsense that might come your way.

Thing is, these are some really smart people, and with all those alogarhythms they’re using, you have to wonder if any of us can really determine the degree to which we’re being played? I’m not even sure what an alogarhythm is despite a year of algebra in high school. I can’t remember a bit of it. I had to google the word to get its spelling.

For several years now, going back to the Arab Spring, some have warned that technology is rapidly outstripping our ability to control what’s going on. The geeks, some used to downplay, are taking over and it’s no small matter. It’s not Mark Zuckerberg’s fault that he stumbled onto something that caused him to fall backwards into a mountain of cash which continues to grow. Nor is he immune to the same attraction to power and money that attracts us all. He’s just a kid who saw a good thing, took advantage of it, and then watched it grow. No different from Bill Gates, or so many other highly successful American entrepreneurs really. Some might say he got lucky. If he hadn’t done what he did, the Winklevoss twins, or somebody else, probably would have.

Whether Facebook and Twitter brought about the Arab Spring, or simply served to assist something that was inevitable, with or without social media, is still being argued. One of the best arguments I’ve read, is that the uprising would have happened even without the Internet, that people have been getting together to change the course of world history for thousands of years. But did social media help facilitate it? Undoubtedly so, but it’s no sure bet there wouldn’t have been an Arab Spring without Facebook.

Events that have followed, from the madness in Charlottesville to dozens of flash mobs, marches and protests generated online, demonstrate the power of social media. As does the election of 2016 and the attempted coup four years later, making most of us understand that this has gone beyond being serious. It is now threatening.

The angst and gnashing of teeth on Capitol Hill, demonstrates how far behind hi-tech our politicians are and how much needs to be done to try and catch up. They should have been discussing the regulation of social media before some of them even knew what it was, which means they are years late in understanding what it is capable of. Not sure even the geeks can answer that question

Nobody knows where all of this is going, and that’s what makes it so frightening and difficult to understand. At least they’re now trying and that’s a start. That said, it should also be noted that Facebook and some of the other hi-tech behemoths have purchased their own opinion factory, the American Edge Project. According to their website, they are a coalition “dedicated to the proposition that American innovators are an essential part of U.S. economic health, national security and individual freedoms.” Critics charge that the 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization, which may allow secret money to influence our elections” is just a front for Zuckerberg and Facebook. A “political advocacy group” they call it.

I saw an ad sponsored by the American Edge Project on one of the news shows just last night urging viewers to tell their representatives to give hi-tech the freedom to do what it wants to do, unfettered by cumbersome regulations. Free to continue growing its bottom line.

Facebook, is expected to have sales of more than $34 billion in the fourth quarter of this year, even with the whistleblower document dump and near-hysteria on the Hill, as our elected representatives try and understand what it is they are dealing with so that they can try and develop a plan to deal with it. And what is it?

I can tell you what it is. It’s all about alogarhythms and billionaire geeks who want to build their power base by increasing their profits. And they want government regulators to leave them alone. Simple, right? Yeah, simple as the simplest alogarhythm. And sales of more than $34 billion in the fourth quarter. For just one company.

Our elected representatives are gonna need some serious help.

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