Mark Zuckerberg Is the Most Powerful Unelected Man in America

from NYTs

On Thursday, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the company’s “New Steps to Protect the U.S. Elections.” They include blocking new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day and attaching labels to posts containing misinformation, specifically related to the coronavirus and posts from politicians declaring victory before all the results are counted.

One can — and many will — debate just how effective these measures will be at preventing election night chaos during a pandemic. (So far Facebook’s “misleading post” labels are vague to the point of causing additional confusion for voters. Similarly, blocking new political ads one week out from the vote ignores the vast amounts of disinformation Americans are subjected to year after year.) But what seems beyond debate is just how deeply Facebook has woven itself into the fabric of democracy.

Reading Mr. Zuckerberg’s election security blog post reminded me of a line from a seminal 2017 article by the journalist Max Read. Three years ago, Mr. Read was struck by a similar pledge from Mr. Zuckerberg to “ensure the integrity” of the German elections. The commitment was admirable, he wrote, but also a tacit admission of Facebook’s immense power. “It’s a declaration that Facebook is assuming a level of power at once of the state and beyond it, as a sovereign, self-regulating, suprastate entity within which states themselves operate.”

That power is consolidated in the decisions of its chief executive, who has voting control over the company. Here’s how Facebook’s co-founder Chris Hughes described Mr. Zuckerberg’s iron grip on the company in The Times last year:

Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.

If Mr. Hughes’s description feels hyperbolic, it may be because such a consolidation of power is actually hard to comprehend.

More here.

Posted in Corporate Governance, Social Media and tagged , , , , .

39 Comments

  1. In this article the New York Times is claiming that Mark Zuckerberg is the most powerful unelected man in America, and I cannot say anything but agree with them. Before reading into the article my thoughts off only the title is that they may be right. Mark Zuckerberg has the power over one of the biggest social media sites in the United Sates, Facebook. A recent study showed that Facebook has over 2.7 billion active users per month. That means that a little above 35% of the world has a Facebook, disregarding people with multiple accounts. That is an incredibly high number and for Mark Zuckerberg to be in charge and run all that, he is a very powerful man. Now getting into what the article is talking about, Mark Zuckerberg is planning on not allowing any political posts about propaganda or anything else, the week of the election. The article states that the steps that Zuckerberg are taking to ensure a safe election include, “ blocking new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day and attaching labels to posts containing misinformation, specifically related to the coronavirus and posts from politicians declaring victory before all the results are counted.” The thing that makes Zuckerberg so powerful is that Facebook is not the only Social media he owns. He also owns Instagram, which is a much more popular social media with the younger generation, and WhatsApp. That is a reach over the older generations with Facebook and the younger generations with Instagram. Mark Zuckerberg has all these people right at the tips of his hands, that is what makes him such a powerful person. I know for a fact that I have both a Facebook and an Instagram, I use Instagram about two to three times a day and Facebook about once every two days. I do not want to say I am reliant on them, but I have gotten into the habit to check Instagram when I am bored, and I am sure millions of other people will agree with me. By Zuckerberg limiting the amount of political posts the week of elections, this really emphasizes his power that he has. He all in one foul swoop just put silence to millions of people sharing their thoughts and facts about the upcoming election. Overall, I do believe that Mark Zuckerberg’s sheer hold over the social media platforms allows him to be the most powerful unelected man in the United States.

  2. Throughout the article, we can see how the writer, Charlie Warzel, comes to his opinionated conclusions pertaining to Mark Zuckerberg and his social empire. I do believe that if Mark Zuckerberg used his resources in such a way, he could form an army in nearly any area of the world. Backtracking to what Warzel said, though, Facebook is “more like an advisory committee” to Zuckerberg’s 60% stake. Looking at the 2020 presidential election where Facebook is “pledging” to cleanse false information and not allow political posts for a week, we can see just how powerful this makes Mark Zuckerberg. To me, this seems more like a private endorsement to propaganda—whatever Zuckerberg sees fit will be what the people see on his platforms. For the week leading up to the election, Facebook is saying they will block posts that they believe to be political, but they did not say what exactly makes a post political or to what extent they would go to block both sides equally. Is a political post one that is posted by a politician? or simply a post that includes a political opinion? or what of simply an American flag? No matter what the scenario, no matter how Facebook is limited, they will always show what they want. They could, in theory, start blocking posts (that were posted before the week of the election) and keep only a single side of the political spectrum visible to the public, all while keeping their pledge to block all political posts posted during election week. Everything Facebook wants you to see before election week will still be seen or should I say what Mark Zuckerberg and his advisory committee wants you to see.
    This article is not just about Mark Zuckerberg, but other’s use of Facebook and how it may be beneficial or detrimental. I will not give a political opinion, but merely mention of Donald Trump’s use of social media. He has posted things that did not sit well with parts of the public eye and it will never leave him. Even if he wanted to have the information scrubbed, it is (besides impossible) still in the power of Facebook as to whether the post will truly be taken down or not. This is to say that Mark Zuckerberg has some power over the president of the United States—as well as power over any president, for that matter—if they were to post on Facebook. That adds a feeling of fright to think the number one person in the country has zero power (besides maybe a bribe) to take down something he said from his own Facebook account; down as in off the platform entirely.
    I found this article to be a very compelling explanation as to why Mark Zuckerberg is the “most powerful unelected man in America”. I do not fear the man alone, but his resources as he could make anything happen, especially in this country where every citizen has the right to think however they want. Legally, I have no clue what rules he himself follows, or what he says he is allowed to follow. For a single man (and his committee) to be able to choose what the world sees of the world’s own words is beyond belief. I would assume if I had tried to do this, people would not be happy and say I am violating the first amendment by not allowing people to say certain things. Simply enough, based on Charlie Warzel’s article, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg can do as they please.

  3. Opinion author Charlie Warzel of The New York Times wrote an article on Mark Zuckerberg and the power that his social media platforms have supplied him with. Social media is one of the biggest influences in the world today. Billions of people are all connected by the tips of their fingers all across the world. As a result, social media platforms have become a main way that people get their news over the recent years. Facebook and Instagram get flooded with advertisements and news media plagues the timelines of billions. Being the company’s chief executive, he has a great amount of power over the site. He can control all of the sites algorithms and has the authority to limit the display of media over the timelines. This is why author Charlie Warzel believes that Mark Zuckerberg is “the most powerful unelected man in America” and it will surely show in the weeks leading up to the election. The 2020 election is one unlike others before. With constant accusations of foul play from each side and mail in ballots leaving people uneasy over the election’s legitimacy, the news has been playing a huge role in forming and guiding people’s decisions. In turn, Mark Zuckerberg has stated he will be exercising the powers over Facebook that he has as the chief executive to block political ads and flag “fake news” posts during the weeks of the election. He plans to do so with the hopes that limiting political ads and flagging misinformation will limit the amount of election night chaos during this pandemic. While trying to control chaos and preventing the spread of false information such as faulty poll counts could be viewed as a positive thing that Zuckerberg is trying to do, Warzel is unsettled by the power that this act shows that Zuckerberg possesses. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right of every citizen and this they have the right to say what they would like, whether in press or online. However, Zuckerberg has the power to limit and monitor the news that will be viewed by billions of people during the most important week of 2020. He wants to try to preserve democracy and prevent spreading of misinformation but in doing so he has shown that he has a great deal of power in his hands by silencing the posts and opinions of millions. He has the power to tell control what people will and will not see during the election and has thus shown that very well could be one of the most powerful unelected men in America.

  4. Today’s digital age utilizes social media as a communication method in which billions of people access daily. It is not surprising that people in both political affiliations are concerned with the immense power that Mark Zuckerberg yields. Zuckerberg’s influence is unprecedent in that he has complete control over three communication platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. He is considered by many as one of the most powerful unelected men in America due to the influence he holds on deciding which news articles and messages are accessible on his platforms. The first amendment gives the American people freedom of speech; however, Zuckerberg’s platforms are the ultimate authority of deciding whether an individual’s post can be seen or not. Moreover, these platforms are unregulated by government which makes one ponder should one unelected person be able to influence the algorithms of what is seen on these apps. Its in human nature that everyone holds some form of bias. Therefore, it is concerning that his political bias can slant or alter information reaching his users. Information content can be easily manipulated to favor one political candidate over another. Consequently, these actions while intended or not, can affect the integrity of the election. Recently, Facebook took effective measures to protect U.S. elections by blocking political ads and labeling others as misinformation. These measures can significantly shift voters’ favorability towards one political party over another. I find it concerning that one person, Mark Zuckerberg, is able to control a dominate monopoly of communication avenues that effect the United States democracy. Personally, I would prefer to read a multitude of news and advertising material and then make an independent, informed decision. Social media should be a place where individuals go to observe diverse viewpoints rather than information selected by one person. Facebook and Instagram are running more like a dictatorship than a democracy, which is ironic because Mark Zuckerberg claims that he is deeply devoted to protect the democracy of the United States. Through their fact checking methods, Facebook is able to reduce the visibility of what population it reaches. Although Facebook has a set of rules regarding misleading information, their rules vary and are applied based on political ideology. As a result, the final say is left up to a Facebook executive who may or may not insert t

  5. Mark Zuckerberg is nothing but the most powerful unelected man in the United States. As stated in the article, Marks voting share on the board is a whopping 60 percent. Meaning, Mark is in complete control of the algorithms seen by individuals’ preferences and decisions of the company. Facebook is the largest social media platform as it owns Instagram and WhatsApp which reach billions of people across every continent. Marks influence of legitimate information and lack thereof is nearly omnipotent. The Facebook company is no stranger to misleading and wrong information being spread throughout its platforms. The platform works on a for-profit system which means the company does not screen advertisements ahead of time. Instead, Facebook and Instagram allow for all advertisements to be displayed to the preferred users. This is incredibly dangerous as many of these advertisements are false and some may be very harmful. The article states that during the 2020 election, Facebook will implement screenings to ensure false advertisements about the election are taken down or denied from being shown. While this will be helpful for both parties, this becomes another ethical dilemma of freedom of speech on the internet. The major question becomes: What is freedom on the internet, and do I have it? The real answer is no, even though Facebook has allowed for freedom of speech for corporate gain thus far, it has become a serious issue. Personally, I do believe in minimal censorship especially when it can affect the outcome of the election. During 2018, Mark Zuckerberg was involved in certain unethical behaviors involving his companies use of selling ad space to paying companies. More specifically, Facebook was indicted for selling the information of millions of children between the ages of 15-17. While this seems diabolical, it happens to everyone. Peoples online activities are bought and sold to provide individuals with more accurate advertisements for items which would interest them more than others. While this may be incredibly alarming to some, it barely scratches the surface of what is out on the internet. Mark Zuckerberg has been in the public eye for years as scandals such as this have plagued his life. Even though Facebook has had much controversy surrounding it, due to Mark Zuckerberg, I believe this is a good first step in ensuring people and especially the American voter are protected from misleading and false information.

  6. The title of the article is very accurate when it comes to Mark Zuckerberg. He controls two of the main sources of social media and when everyone relies on social media it gives him a lot of power. Some people may say too much power. When someone has so much power like Mark Zuckerb­­erg has it can go to his head. I am impartial to what Siva Vaidhyanathan said when she stated, “And I’m not sure Mark Zuckerberg is even willing to contemplate his influence. I’m not sure he’d ever sleep if he ever thought about how much power he has.” Although I agree with it, this is a controversial statement because with someone in so much power and not understanding that power can become dangerous. On the contrary, if someone knows that they hold so much power it can also become dangerous because they know they can do things most people cannot. This is scary to think about how he controls the majority of all these platforms that for the most part run the social media world. Considering that most of the world revolves around social media that gives the person in charge of a lot of power. Mark Zuckerberg has in my opinion too much power for one individual.

    The news of Facebook censoring posts and not allowing political advertisements the week before election day looks like a good idea for Facebook but it gives the impression that they can do it year-round. Instead, they only use it one week every four years the week leading up to election day. Going along with what I read in Jack Mowen’s post, he was talking about trump and how Mark Zuckerberg has a lot of control over the President. With Trump becoming very vocal on social media there is only so much Facebook and Instagram can do when it comes to stopping advertisements and censoring posts because a lot of celebrities and Trump himself has taken to Twitter to rant and share their opinions. Jack also mentioned that the decision to keep or take down certain posts is hard to tell whether it is truly political or whether it even needs to be taken down or not. It becomes very opinionated and something can be taken down that should not have been and they the person who posted it will be angry. They have every right to be angry because of freedom of speech in America is supposed to be a trademark of this democracy.

    Mark Zuckerberg is one of the hardest positions in the world as well. He is put in a position that has everyone in the world looking at him when something happens even if it is not directly his fault. Such as a leak on Facebook about something that isn’t true that gets the attention of the world and creates panic. When it is found to be fake it can lead back to Mark and why he did not act sooner to fix the misinformation. Misinformation is a very big problem in the world of social media because it can cause panic. Let’s say a page with millions of followers says a bomb went off in China, then millions of people will see this and some will know to double-check online on a more reputable source to check if it’s true but there will be other who immediately become overwhelmed by fear that a war is going to start. This is something that needs to be corrected fast but with billions of accounts and billions of more posts every day it becomes difficult to find a way to get rid of all the misinformation out there.

    Buffer.com lists the top social media platforms and little did I know that Mark Zuckerberg controls 4 of the top 6 social media platforms. This is terrifying because one man has control over two-thirds of the top places people go for social media. Combines between the 4 it has over 6 billion individual active monthly users. Some people have an account with all 4 but that put about twenty to twenty-five percent of the population with an account on at least one of Mr. Zuckerberg’s platforms. This puts him in a position where he needs zero bias towards either side of the election. He has stated that he wants to keep the integrity of America’s democracy but being Mark Zuckerberg is a very difficult job right now. With the history of Facebook and data leaks and all the other bad things when it comes to the reputation of the young billionaire it becomes foggy when it comes to the idea of is, he trustworthy with the position he has. As long as he does what he says he is going to do and keep advertisements out of the feeds of his users and he continues to make efforts to keep the integrity of the election intact then he is trustworthy in my book, at least for now.

  7. In todays era of Social Media, those with the ability to regulate what people see on social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In this New York Times piece, the author breaks down just hope impactful Zuckerberg can be as the man in charge of two of those three major platforms. With the ability to block harmful news and regulate what advertisers use the site, Zuckerberg almost solely has the ability to decide what the billions of users of these sites see on a daily basis. Controlling what this many people see brings great power and influence to the Facebook CEO, which he can easily use to try and push his own personal agenda whatever that may be. This is a concern to many Americans today, as many of us rely on these platforms to supply with news going on in the world. The fact that Zuckerberg can simply attempt to impact something like the U.S. Election by blocking ads and flagging misinformation is a likely a very intimidating thought to the parties running for office. While you can look at this from a negative light, if Zuckerberg is honest and successful with trying to weed out fake news and misinformation around the election this could be a great step towards getting the people the truth and better allowing them to form political opinions. Great power will mean great responsibility for Zuckerberg, and it’s up to him and his team at these platforms to make sure that power is used for good intentions.

  8. The first thing that grasped me about the article was very intriguing to me was the title because it made me reflect on the power that Mark Zuckerberg does have in America. The co-founder of Facebook said it best, he provided the facts that let the reader see how much influence on the world that this gentleman has. Zuckerberg controls 3 of the most popular communication platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp – that billions of people use every day. Through all those platforms, he can control the algorithms to determine what people see in the apps. According to statista.com, 79 percent of people are on social media, and him controlling a large portion of that market would make him a very powerful person. Now today, with the head of this country being so active on social media has given more power to Zuckerberg. There is a lot of misinformation today and especially on social media. Anyone pretty much ha the ability to say what they want as who they want. Credibility and legitimacy are two terms that are very important when it comes to social media because it is such a free-lance platform. Mark Zuckerberg and his staff have been doing what they can to flag down things that they see are false to have their platform be as fair as possible, but it is up to the user to an extent what they see on their profile. Most social media platforms gear their explore pages and “for you” pages based on the kind of things on their phone and the other kinds of things that they like. He has tremendous power, but there are always going to be the people that try to manipulate the system in order for their own personal gain. People try to do this with Facebook because of how influential this platform really is. I personally do not mind Mark Zuckerberg having all this power because he has proved that he can handle himself in that position and because we have similar views on who should not be in office for the next term. With social media’s influence in today’s society, it is important to have someone like Mr. Zuckerberg at the head of it to maintain control and order.

  9. The article claims that Mark Zuckerberg is the most powerful unelected man in the United States, and it is hard to disagree. Zuckerberg not only owns Facebook, but also Instagram and WhatsApp. Zuckerberg has the voting power at 60% to control what people see on their Facebook and Instagram feeds and he can decide what information can be on his platforms. Chris Hughes describes the Facebook power dynamic when he says “Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, … He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive,” (Warzel). The amount of control Zuckerberg has over his $700 billion company is incredible, but it is also frightening the power he, not just Facebook see online. Facebook can decide what a misleading post is and significantly influence public opinion and the spread of news based on their own agenda.
    Zuckerberg has the power to influence news and elections by deciding what to allow on his platforms and what he will flag as false information. This power generally goes unquestioned as so many people send hours a day on these platforms. As max Read says in the article “Facebook had grown too big, and its users too complacent, for democracy,” (Warzel). Facebook has 2.7 billion users and Instagram has 1 billion. That is an incredible number of people using Facebook platforms. All these people are subject to Facebook algorithms that determine what they see while they are using the app, and since Zuckerberg has 60% control, one man decides what they will see while online. Zuckerberg has taken what he says is an effort to uphold democracy, but is it democratic for one man to decide what is allowed on the internet and what is good and bad information? Zuckerberg and Facebook certainly believe it is their place to shield the American people from information that they deem wrong or dangerous. In conclusion, Facebook is one of the most influential companies in the world and Zuckerberg’s dictator like grasp at the head of it makes him the most powerful unelected man in the United States of America.

  10. Facebook has become something that no one could have even imagined. From the very beginning in 2004 to now it has become the biggest social media market in the world. It hasn’t come and gone like other apps or social media sites. It is constantly growing and it doesn’t seem like it’s slowing down. The man who founded Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg has an insane amount of money and power and no one even realizes it. There are so many arguments and conflicts that are brought to Facebook and the many views that are on there have the power to convince people and change opinions. Even in my hometown there is a Facebook group where people in town post about many different things. There are posts about politics, the school system and things as simple as lost dogs. Some of the posts are super aggressive and opinionated, but all they do is start arguments and pin people up against each other. The power of Facebook even on just a town level is immense and we are just starting to see it with the upcoming presidential election. The amount of political posts that I see on Facebook has actually driven me from the app, I find it not enjoyable and full of hate and disagreement. I don’t like going on it and I only have it because of various groups for school. The fact that Facebook will be limiting the posts about the election is a good thing in my opinion. The fact that Facebook is so political makes it so toxic and just makes everything an argument. Many people on Facebook go there to try and change people’s minds, but the reality is that many people are so persistent and aren’t open to other beliefs. These conflicting people just end up arguing to no end because no one is willing to budge. The fact that Facebook is looking to prevent these posts shows that they are trying to minimize these arguments from happening. I think it’s a good thing that Facebook is doing this and hopefully it can help revert it back to a platform of connecting people in a positive way by allowing people to post something happening in their life or something funny without all of this political backlash.

  11. This may seem like a sort of theme for my comments, but I did not really concern myself with the dealings of Mark Zuckerberg and his various applications that he owns. After all, I’m a nineteen year old college student, so I’m not really in the demographic to be using Facebook. What does set me apart is I lack not only a Facebook account but also an Instagram account, much to the chagrin of my sisters. My social media presence in general could do with an overhaul. The point of all of this is whatever Mr. Zuckerberg does, I believed that it would have minimal to no impact on my day to day life, due to my life being more than just social media. But after reading the article and doing a bit of background research, I can come to agree with those saying Mr. Zuckerberg’s handling of Facebook poses at least a hurdle to democracy if not an outright threat. Even going past the article’s discussion of the German elections and American political ads, if Facebook itself admits on NPR that social media is bad for democracy, it can not get more clear than that. If you think I am joking, they literally had an interview on NPR where they admitted this. But with all this grandstanding on what’s good and bad for democracy, we forget that social media is nothing but a tool. Tools have no inherent moral compass, it is up to the wielder to command it. However, some tools should be supervised by more than one person. Unfortunately, the wielder of Facebook appears to be a solo act, with the board of directors being a placeholder to satisfy worried onlookers. Democracy is not going to die out because of my grandma posting my baby pictures, but it will be dealt a blow if that same grandma starts believing posts dealing with politics and conspiracies without fact checking them for accuracy or bias. Even without bringing up paid Russian trolls, Facebook has a slew of issues that must be addressed, but will ultimately not get so much as a patch. But not even counting those issues, it is my belief that social media is inherently flawed as a concept. There is no fixing the merger of ideas, as that genie has already vacated the bottle decades ago. As we become more connected, the clash and differences in religions, ideologies, and beliefs is more apparent and exasperated. I want to veer away from disliking the globalization of our world, but at the same point it has lead to as many toxic confrontations as it has positive ones, and Facebook can’t be blamed for that. Nonetheless, social media is still that same tool that I mentioned earlier, it just so happens no one has a clear idea what this tool’s use will cost us, both in the long run and the immediate future.

  12. I recently watched “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix so the title of this post immediately jumped out at me. The Netflix documentary discusses the unhealthy reliance and dependency many of us have on social media. The documentary also makes a convincing argument that this dependency is intentionally manufactured by major technology companies like Facebook. So when I saw this article, I was curious as to the author’s thoughts on the power & influence Mark Zukerberg holds in America. In the documentary, there is a call to action for tech companies to take appropriate action to reduce the spread of misinformation and ensure the welfare of its users.

    The beginning of this article discusses the steps that Mark Zukerberg is making to try to reduce election tampering and the promotion of misinformation on its platform. The author also questions the effectiveness of these actions, while well-intentioned, it doesn’t seem adequate action to match the scale of Facebook’s influence in democracy.

    In “the Social Dilemma” documentary, many of the interviewees who were responsible for building these engagement algorithms stated that they were all conceptualized with good intentions but very few people considered the flip side of the coin of how these algorithms could be exploited. This article highlights that flip side and those exploitations by mentioning the covert agencies that were trying to sow division. This level of misinformation breeds mistrust and large companies like Facebook should be taking action to prevent this. Many prominent experts from Silicon Valley have created the Center for Humane Technology to try and reshape the influence of digital infrastructure to be one that benefits rather than manipulates the individual users. While the steps that Zukerberg and Facebook are taking are a good starting point, I hope that this will lead to further action rather than continued complacence.

  13. This blog was very interesting to read. I am not a Facebook user and never have been. I always knew that Mark Zuckerberg had a lot of power but this article puts it into an interesting perspective. The fact that Mark by himself owns 60% of shares and can control what Facebook does is astounding to me. I had no idea that was the case. In a company as big as Facebook the fact that one person can make a decision about the entire company by himself is mind blowing. You would think they would have a board of directors or executives to make decisions for the company. It is just really surprising to me that one person can make decisions like that. He can set major rules for the company and people just have to say okay because he is the majority shareholder. Now that Facebook owns Instagram too that makes it even crazier.

    That also makes it scary. The blog compares Facebook to the way a state operates and it seems pretty accurate to me. The amount of power that Facebook has and can control what people see is scary. As Facebook said social media can be a threat to democracy. Controlling that much for that many people is a threat to democracy. I agree that this does make Mark Zuckerberg one of the most powerful not elected men in America. The amount of power that he has is comparable to some government officials and I really do not know how that is allowed to happen. Regardless, decisions for a company of Facebook’s size should have to go through a process rather instead of one person being able to make all the decisions. I think that is too much power for one man to have and they should change that but it probably will not change anytime soon.

  14. I cannot count how many times I have logged into my Facebook account, scrolled for a minute before coming across a painfully misinformed relative typing into the abyss that is Facebook about “radical leftists”, and immediately logged out. “How can these people be so uneducated on political matters?” I have thought to myself.
    The answer is always right there: Facebook. These relatives of mine only receive news from a select few sources—and Facebook is one of their favorite news channels of choice. This situation is not unique to my family, either; I am sure that many young people have experienced the same thing. In my experience, the people who fall into the trap of misinformation are the same ones who pick and choose the news sources that align with their own beliefs (I have been told verbatim by a conservative man that “FOX News is the only real news source”, which is so blatantly untrue—but he truly believes that). On social media platforms like Facebook, your news feed is cultivated by your search history (not that Facebook tracks and keeps all of that data… not at all)—so those with extreme political beliefs or a tendency to search news sources that put out false information are the same people more likely to come across it again and again.
    What this all boils down to is the power of Facebook and, by extension, Mark Zuckerberg, as stated in the article from The New York Times. The lack of regulation of misinformation on the social media site could prove to be detrimental to the results of the election, and the fact that a social media site even has that much sway in the results of the election is preposterous.
    Charlie Warzel summarized very nicely the impact that Facebook has had on society just this past summer (in the midst of a global pandemic, a racial revolution, and arguably one of the most turbulent elections in American history):
    “This cycle is unsustainable. This summer has shown that the platform has been a prime vector for the most destabilizing forces in American life. It has helped supercharge conspiracies around the dangerous QAnon movement. It has provided organization for, and amplified calls to action from, militia movements, which have been linked to deaths in U.S. cities at protests. Its moderation policies have failed to catch blatant rule violations around voter disenfranchisement, and the conspiracy theories that go viral on the platform have found their way, time and again, to President Trump’s mouth.”
    The very fact that conspiracy theories that can be traced back to Facebook have surfaced in the political field via the president of the United States is absolutely absurd (Although, given the fact that Trump was a celebrity before a politician and therefore utilized social media much more than any former president, it can be considered a bit more absurd that the presidency was granted someone so impressionable, manipulative, and so willing to cite facts from social media posts without evidence).
    And what has Mark Zuckerberg done up until now? Well… not much. The decision to regulate the flow of information and flag any false facts is extremely new and allegedly only came after Facebook was called out for allowing such posts to bypass their system and gain such momentum (not to mention the controversy that Facebook started out only flagging Democratic and liberal-leaning posts while leaving alone Republican and conservative-leaning posts).
    What can Zuckerberg do aside from this, though? Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment, and he cannot disrupt such a thing without seeming like a dictator (even if he is disrupting it on the platform he created). The only thing we can do is call for more regulation and fact-checking, which Zuckerberg has already promised. Yes, the fact that his platform has such immense power and sway in this election is truly frightening, but unfortunately there is not a whole lot that he can do aside from what he and Facebook employees have already started to do.

  15. This blog made me very fascinated about Facebook. I actually use Facebook safely. I never knew Mark Zuckerberg would actually try to ban such posts on Facebook that deal with any given individual’s political views, such as being a Democrat, or being a Republican. I always thought that Facebook is a safe-haven, where people can express their free speech. However, after reading this post, I found out that that is not the case. Instead Mr. Zuckerberg tries to ban such posts, that could be perceived as rude and offensive. After reading this article, I feel that Mark Zuckerberg will be able to run Facebook properly if they deal with multiple people to oversee the process and come up with a consensus based on the relevant information and make a decision successfully.

  16. As soon as I read the title of this blog, I was instantly intrigued, and I completely agree. Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most powerful men in America, and I’d even say the world. The amount of control he has over everyone who uses his platforms is unimaginable and we don’t even realize it. He not only controls one huge platform, but three, that are an immense part of millions of lives across the globe. People (including me) all around the world download these apps into their phones, tablets, etc. and put their personal information into them. Without thinking anything of it, we willingly trust these apps to keep our personal information safe and we’ve been living like this for years. Reading this blog and realizing how much control Mark Zuckerberg has over his platforms and that he can control what we see and don’t see, makes one think what he and the people who work with him could actually do with all our information. This can affect not only what we’re watching, but how we think and the way we do things. Knowing all of this information and assuming the worst, we still wouldn’t delete these apps because we’re too attached to them. They consume our lives, and that is exactly why Zuckerberg is so powerful.

  17. Mark Zuckerberg’s power is frightening. And the ethical dilemmas that result from his power are near impossible to solve. Take the problem of disinformation on Facebook. The article mentions Zuckerberg “seems truly incapable of taking personal responsibility for decisions and actions at Facebook.” But I pose the question is it his responsibility to deal with the definition of truth as we know it and tame the algorithmic beast he has created? Gary Vaynerchuk is a prominent digital marketer and CEO of VaynerX, a holding company that deals with everything social from data science to creative. He often says that algorithms do not manipulate humans. They expose the human psyche’s vulnerability to tribalism. In Gary’s vision, we are naturally inclined to disinformation and polarization, and the internet is revealing that. Take the mantra “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” what if Zuckerberg is a slave to his algorithm’s just as much as society is? Has he created something so powerful that it transcends his control? The article poses, “what does it say that one of those institutions charged with protecting democracy is, itself, structured more like a dictatorship?” Not only is Facebook structured like a dictatorship, but it doesn’t have the best interest of our democracy at heart. Zuckerberg can make all the public-facing comments he wants, but democracy is not his customer, nor is it his users. His customers are his advertisers. Facebook is in the business of collecting data and getting paid to advertise other user’s content. Even if Zuckerberg is going to try and protect our democracy, it will never be the priority. And even if he would make it his priority, how can we trust him? There is a prevailing theory in silicon valley that users of the internet are more like computer nodes, or neurons, in the super-brain composed of every interconnected user. Nodes are meant for programming. They are used to solve problems, which may be for the common good, but it forgets that we aren’t computer nodes. We are people. People who deserve enough respect to be more than a 1 or 0. Mark Zuckerberg’s ability to program our lives is too much power, I do not know the solution, but I know that there needs to be something done to curtail his tyranny over our minds.

  18. Mark Zuckerberg is undoubtedly the most powerful unelected man in the United States of America. Over the years, it seems like Facebook keeps getting bigger and bigger. Now with over 50,000 employees and a stock evaluation that has recently hit all-time highs, Facebook is the biggest social media network of all time with more than 2 billion users online every month. Personally, I stopped using Facebook many years ago and haven’t used it since. I moved on to other social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. I always thought that Facebook would lose popularity and close its operations. I thought it would be the next Myspace. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. After reading this article about Zuckerberg and Facebook, I now realize how much power one man has. The author of the article, Charlie Warzel, shed some light on the power Zuckerberg has in his company, and in turn, in the world. One concerning fact I learned is that Zuckerberg controls around 60 percent of all voting shares within his company. In other words, what Mark says goes. If the whole board of Facebook votes one way on an issue and Zuckerberg says otherwise, Zuckerberg’s word takes precedent. However, this power places a large burden on Zuckerberg’s shoulders. For example, there have been calls to censor and silence Facebook pages on both sides of the American political spectrum. This is a major issue for Zuckerberg and Facebook. For instance, if you can censor someone who is left-leaning, why shouldn’t he censor someone who is right-leaning and vice versa? This also brings up a free speech issue. Is banning an American account or censoring posts from an account without clear reason a violation of that person’s first amendment rights? This is hard to say. This article also mentions foreign interference in our general election through Facebook. Personally, though this may be controversial, I think these companies that may be backed by the Kremlin, China, or any other foreign entity, should have a right to post what they please. It should be up to the American people to do independent research and find the facts. I have heard or seen adults time and time again mention the crazy things they see about what’s going on in the world on Facebook. I believe that no one should be getting their news from Facebook. If you see something on Facebook, you should always question it because everyone has a motive. Whether it be Fox News, Breitbart, CNN, or Buzzfeed, every company that provides news has a motive or financial incentive as to why they politically lean the way they do. It’s up to the American people to decide the facts based on all the evidence that is presented to them. I believe that Facebook shouldn’t be censoring people. It should be the choice of the American people to do their own research, and that will be the only way to have a fair election. Also, though Mark Zuckerberg may have immense power, it wouldn’t be hard to remove him from that power if it becomes a concern. For instance, if people stopped using his platform, he would lose money and influence. If a new company came along that was the future of social media, and Zuckerberg didn’t already buy out that company, Zuckerberg wouldn’t have as much power as he does now.

  19. I think Mark Zuckerberg is the most powerful unelected man. This is because what he has done with Facebook. This man has expanded all the elements that have to do with the the app. Facebook is the most used/biggest social media site, and it will only grow to be bigger. So many people use Facebook on a daily basis that they just keep putting putting the net worth of Mark. Mark has a huge percentage of his company which is why he basically gets whatever he wants because his percentage is more than half. It wouldn’t be so easy to take Mark off the company or get him fired due to the fact that he came up with everything and is making changes to the Facebook app and its only going to attract more people. When I say attract, meaning that they will always get more people to join and the company will always have more and more improvements so Facebook will forever be situated. Many people around the world also have Facebook so I do think this is why Facebook won’t ever become a non-useable source. Facebook is also like the news, a lot of people see some sources or links to everyday news and that is why more people will use it. Facebook also has games for kids to play and the more popularity. Even if people stop using Facebook there will always be the people everyday that are brand new joining and can’t wait to use the app and will always be in the app. this is why whether or not people stop or don’t, then Mark will always be the unelected man. Also Mark Zuckerberg makes Facebook safe, so if there is inappropriate language or a video or something leaked, you will be blocked from Facebook for a month, and potentially block your account or even ban. This requires the safety measures that are good due to the fact to make the app fun and safe.

  20. Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most powerful people in the world, and people have yet to realize it. One of the most powerful aspects of life in the 21st century is the internet, and more specifically, social media. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, runs the social media space, and with any more power, the social media market would be a monopoly, all run by one giant platform. I believe the power that Zuckerberg has could either be very beneficial and possibly change our country, or the power that Zuckerberg has could potentially be the downfall of our country. Majority of the generations that are growing up in this country have grown up with social media, and social media will continue to be a huge presence for years to come. In the article, Zuckerberg plans on removing all political ads and news sources a week before the election. Facebook explains this when the article explains “They (Facebook) include(s) blocking new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day and attaching labels to posts containing misinformation, specifically related to the coronavirus and posts from politicians declaring victory before all the results are counted.” Now this may seem beneficial, and in this instance, it is, this idea sirens an alarm for many possibilities in the future. Facebook has so much power and influence on people, that their ability to control ads and what and what is not shown could be very dangerous. If Zuckerberg had wanted to, he could choose a certain political side to endorse, and that would potentially affect how some voters vote, and possibly affect the entire election. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp consist of a giant part of the population that are on social media and the people that will be exposed to these ads, and the scary part is that they could have had an even larger audience. In class we discussed the state of social media app Tik Tok, and the whole debate about who would purchase it before it got banned. The only reason that Facebook could not purchase Tik Tok was because the market would have become too much of a monopoly as I previously explained. That truly captivates how much power Zuckerberg has, and how much of an affect he has on its viewers. If Zuckerberg is able to use his power for the good of the people and is able to control his medias, he will be a large part in the equality and fairness of future elections.

  21. I agree with this article explaining the unknown power of Mark Zuckerberg. Being the head of three major companies makes him one of the most powerful people in the world. This is because billions of individuals use these platforms on a daily basis for for both casual and business use. With technology being on the forefront of this era, there is multiple ways to use these platforms. Being able to control the algorithms used for daily feeds, also gives Mark a lot of power. As the article states, there has been an issue with misinformation being spread around, especially when it comes to politics. I personally know, Mark Zuckerberg has run into issues with this topic in the past. I have personally had experience with this because I use facebook and I see how political the platform has become over time. He is also one of the wealthiest individuals in the world, so this also adds to the amount of power he has. What I think is the most important idea this article states is “He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it”. This took me by surprise because I never truly thought about how much power he has. It’s crazy to think one individuals can regulate what people post and what people see on their timeline. Also, it’s scary to think that he has the power to shut down a competitor with ease. This is due to the immense power and profitability of Facebook. Not only is mark invested in these platform but most recently I saw an interview where he was discussing his advancements is virtual and augmented Reality. If Mark Zuckerberg gained control of any other platform, I believe it would be considered a monopoly. Being able to create a platform that controls people all over the world gives immense power to someone who is unelected.

  22. This article serves as just another example of how traditional national governments are beginning to lose power in the wake of this new technological age we find ourselves in. One dangerous issue only partially addressed in this article is that our first amendment right to freedom of speech does not extend into the realm of social media. Facebook and other social media corporations are private businesses with the legal right to control what speech is allowed on their platform. This is becoming more and more of an issue as these corporations’ influence begins to rival that of our own government. Do we really have freedom of speech in a world where a post on social media has infinitely more reach than that of person wielding a microphone on a street corner? Another troubling point brought up in the article is how Facebook functions as more of a dictatorship than anything else. While corporations have always had some influence on how elections function, with interest groups lobbying politicians, there is no historical equivalent to a corporation controlling the platform on which political opinions and dialogue are expressed. Personally, I believe the obvious next step would be to introduce some legislation that limits the ability of social media corporations of a certain size to police what kind of speech is and is not allowed on their platforms. This issue manifests itself most prevalently in Mr. Zuckerberg’s statements on containing misinformation. While this idea may seem noble on the surface, it begs the question; What governing body gave Mr. Zuckerberg the right to define what is misleading and what is not? Mr. Zuckerberg has stated his intentions of influencing elections in several countries, including both Germany and the US, meaning his influence is truly global in nature. The idea that any organization can have the authority to determine what information is truthful and what is not is suspect at best, but when you combine this with the fact that Mr. Zuckerberg holds no democratic office in any of the countries he plans to influence, it become even more scary. President Trump expressed his intentions of regulation social media this past summer, so there may be some hope on that front, however it does seem as though there is a metaphorical tug of war going on over our right to communicate freely on the internet, and that should be deeply concerning to any citizen of a democratic country. The core mechanism at the center of our government is our ability to communicate ideas and debate them freely. Once that is gone, democracy’s ability to function properly may be at risk.

  23. To start, this article highlights how much power social media platforms have, especially Facebook’s top executive, Mark Zuckerberg. It amazes me how there is really no laws that keep social media companies like Facebook accountable for their actions. It does seem like the title of the article suggests, that Mark Zuckerberg is the most powerful non-elected human in the United States. One can say that citing information as propaganda or a “misleading post” is politically motivated. According to a study, Facebook is the leading social platform, reaching 60.6 percent of internet users. Also, Facebook averages 1.7 billion users visiting the site on a daily basis. Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp. Instagram will reach 112.5 million U.S. users in 2020 which is a 5.4% increase from last year. Equally important, 1.5 billion users in 180 countries makes WhatsApp the most-popular messaging app in the world. Zuckerberg has the world at his fingertips with the amount of access and data under his companies. Zuckerberg’s plan to protect the U.S. elections includes “blocking new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day and attaching labels to posts containing misinformation, specifically related to the coronavirus and posts from politicians declaring victory before all the results are counted.”. With Zuckerberg now implementing what Twitter has done recently too it just discourages people’s political views and beliefs. To me this is wrong because I think that people should decide and deceiver through all the information given and make their own opinion. It is up to the individual to see what is true or what is not true, not social media companies. However, in today’s world people can’t live without social media. It seems that people like Mark Zuckerberg will always have his hands in the middle of things.

  24. When stumbling upon this article, I knew that it was going to be intriguing. Mark Zuckerberg who created Facebook is typically known to stir the pot from time to time. I think that my initial reaction to the title of the article was accurate and sold me on the rest of the content.
    From the article, we are allowed to see both sides of Zuckerberg that we know. We are allowed to see the side that makes us Americans feel safe, and then the deep dark side of Zuckerberg and his way of corruption. What is said to be done, is that Zuckerberg will be removing ads that lead to miscommunication of things that political candidates will be debating for the upcoming election. With that being said, in theory, this idea sounds great. But if you look at it from another angle you realize that Mark Zuckerberg is in control of changing our minds and perceptions. Making Zuckerberg the most powerful man with no authoritative title. It is very scary to think that he can take control over most of America, based on his users who use his app, Facebook.
    There are a few quotes that stood out to me in this article and they go as the following “It’s a declaration that Facebook is assuming a level of power at once of the state and beyond it, as a sovereign, self-regulating, suprastate entity within which states themselves operate” (Warzel). I think that this is a great quote that practically sums up the whole article by discussing how Facebook is seen as an all-powerful app, but it is crazy to think that it has all of this power over us as American citizens.
    Another great section of this article is stated by Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. She states ““It’s really hard for human beings to picture in their head the actual size and influence of the platform. Something like one out of three people uses the thing — it’s like nothing we’ve encountered in human history. And I’m not sure Mark Zuckerberg is even willing to contemplate his influence. I’m not sure he’d ever sleep if he ever thought about how much power he has” (Warzel). This quote really made me think about Facebook’s control and the control that we allow it to have. I think that it is very interesting to view Facebook this way.
    Overall, I think that this was a great article, that really made me think about the type of power that we give to simple things in our lives that really end up having a huge impact on us. I really hope that Zuckerberg uses this for good, and not for the wrong reasons because I fear that we will not be able to not have Facebook as such a large influence on our lives.

  25. I have always been intrigued by the work Mark Zuckerberg does with Facebook and many other things which is why I was drawn to this article. With the election coming up Facebook will be one of the places candidates do their campaign work. Facebook is also a platform for supporters of a certain candidate where they can voice their opinion. With so many people on Facebook, it can have an influence on who wins the election. To make sure the election is fair, Mark Zuckerberg has announced “new steps to protect the U.S. Elections.” The things they have done include “blocking new political ads in the week leading up to the election” and “labeling posts that could contain false information” regarding the election. There are many who are skeptical how effective these measures will be due to the fact that voters are exposed to a lot of false information in the year leading up to the election. It is fair to be skeptical because I honestly can not go on any social media anymore without seeing something political whether it is true or false. I think labeling false information will help but maybe they should always label fake information and not just in the weeks leading up to the election. The author says people do not realize how much of an impact Facebook has on “democracy”. He mentions how three years ago Zuckerberg pledged to “ensure the integrity” of the German elections. He says this is the first time he realized “Facebook’s immense power.” Chris Hughes, who is a chief executive at Facebook, knows first-hand how much power Zuckerberg has. He is quoted saying this, “Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day.” It is hard to believe that someone who mainly runs social media platforms can have so much influence on politics. But that is modern day for you, back in the day when there was no social media, Zuckerberg would have had zero influence. I personally try not to be influenced by what I see on social media, but it is hard not to sometimes. What I do when I see something possibly interesting is, I take a step back and do some more research to make sure what I see is not false. The problem is many people do not do that and just jump to conclusions. I think Facebook will do a good job monitoring their influence they have on the election and as the general public I think we all need to take a step back after we see something political on social media.

  26. That was a really interesting read. Not only is Mark Zuckerberg in control of his company, but indirectly billions of people. With the number of users between Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, the global reach the company has is huge. Not to mention that Zuckerberg has a majority share in that company, meaning that is EVERY single person involved in Facebook wanted to me a right-hand turn, Zuckerberg can make a left and the company would have to follow. This is a rather tricky topic and I think its more than what meets the eye.
    On one side, this is an immense amount of power and control that one man has. He can control who sees what data, what is being shared, any algorithm, you name it he can make it happen. This is great but maybe not so because it can only be his decision. If he is a level headed person, and has a team of advisors to work with then this is great because a decision can be made rather quickly. On the other side of it a poor decision by Mark can be made with little checks and balances. I say that this is tricky because Facebook isn’t a government thing. If a president had this power there would be so many issues with little checks and balances for example, but this is a corporation. This is his business that he started and is still with today. No person put him in charge, he did. No person made facebook what it is today, the world using it did. What I’m trying to get at is while yes this is a lot of power for one man, what should be done? Should they cut his ownership in his own company? Should they not let him make the business decisions? If you do that then yes there thought of him having all this power will disappear, but will that have a longer-term consequence? Then other businesses may be forced to not have a single person in control. This is the concept of precedent or stare decisis in court that could be applied to other companies.

  27. With election day less than two months away, America exists in a state of what could be referred to as political turmoil. The country faces an interesting dilemma: extremists to either side of the political spectrum back their candidates relentlessly, while moderates are left wondering what choice is best for the country. Most elections pit two qualified candidates against each other, each debating why they are superior to their opponent, but in the current election, we face a situation where the debate regards who is the least unqualified, rather than the most qualified. As the two candidates, who many would reluctantly refer to as politicians, continue to spout nonsense, there exists a platform where the information is further misconstrued: Facebook.

    Facebook exists as one of the largest social networking platforms in the world, which comes with its fair share of problems; one of the major problems that exists is the supply of political information. On a site ravaged by virtual wars pitting left against right, boomers against millennials, and conservatives against liberals, there is little truth being shared. Facebook users, especially those who are not tech-savvy, will often see a post and believe its contents without performing any fact checking of their own. This has led to quite a few commentaries existing within Facebook that have created a stir amongst users, often over issues that do not exist. Zuckerberg aims to solve this problem.

    Experts have been wary of Zuckerberg’s influence in world affairs for years now, and Warzel’s opinion seems to be no different. Zuckerberg’s claims to facilitate the flow of information, limiting it the closer election day comes, definitely boast a sense of authority. Zuckerberg, however, does possess the authority to do so; owning Facebook and Instagram gives him the power to control what millions of users will see everyday. I believe that Zuckerberg’s claims of limiting the available information to only what is deemed true and precise is honorable, but how do users know that Zuckerberg is doing so with honesty and good intentions? He says that Facebook will monitor the information and flag anything that Facebook deems false, but who will monitor and facilitate what Facebook considers true? As stated in the article, Zuckerberg possesses a dominant 60% of Facebook, making it so that Facebook and himself exist as almost one in the same.

    Combining these factors, Zuckerberg does indeed possess a large amount of authority over the election. If he wanted to, he could easily filter what passes Facebook’s fact check test, thus allowing him to subtly create support in favor of his preferred candidate. Doing so under the impression that Facebook is only displaying true information will convince users that everything they see on Facebook is 100% correct and accurate. If information that is deemed false makes it past the fact check, anyone attempting to alleviate and disprove the error would be labeled as a sensitive liberal, or a racist conservative depending on which candidate the false information supports or condemns. I do not believe that Zuckerberg would march down this hypothetical path I have created for the purpose of a possible issue, but the reality is that he could. That, I believe is the issue with how big and powerful Facebook has become; not that Zuckerberg has abused his influence, but he easily could.

  28. This article describes Mark Zuckerberg as the most influential person in the United Stets if not in the whole globe. Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp CEO can decide whatever he wants to show to his users. Facebook has over 2.6 billion users. This fact shows that he can control almost a third of the world’s population’s mind since he can choose what algorithms to use. I agree with the author of the article since I have noticed that whenever I talk about something that I want to purchase, Zuckerberg’s social platforms show me any offer and any website where I can purchase the things that I thinking about. Zuckerberg has the power to decide what political party people should vote since he can show the opponents’ supporters fake news and videos that ruin the political party’s social presence. Instead, Mark Zuckerberg can show any good political post about the political party he prefers. Zuckerberg is the most influential person in the world, he can even change the polls’ results. However, his social media are a powerful tool for information that can let understand people what to actually vote, who is doing the best political campaign, who is proposing the best way to solve the country’s problems. I think that Mark Zuckerberg is using his informational tools in the right way, so he is using them just to inform people. The United States is going to have the election day in the next few months, so this upcoming period is going to be chaos about who is going to be the new president and who people should vote. The chaos can be seen on Mark Zuckerberg’s platforms since the users are invading the “home” of the social media as Facebook of posts that promote the “right” president. However, Zuckerberg has the power to limitate certain posts that will promote a political party in an “unfair” way. Many users post on social medias fake news and fake videos that can become viral and they will ruin the campaign of a future president, so Mark Zuckerbeg shuts down those posts that will just increase the votes’ chaos.

  29. I have to agree with the article that Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most powerful unelected men in America. He is an entrepreneur, becoming a billionaire at the young age of 23. He owns Facebook and Instagram, two of the most widely used social media platforms in America. In today’s society, social media is an integral part of everyday life. Many people, especially those of younger generations, rely on much of the information they see on social media. This gives Mark Zuckerberg an unimaginable amount of power. 1.62 billion users are on Facebook each day and 500 million use Instagram each day. Mark Zuckerberg makes and oversees most decisions regarding these sites. This plays a huge role in the power he has leading up to the election as well. Last month, Mark Zuckerberg made the decision to block and ban all political ads on Facebook during the week leading up to the election. He did this in an effort to protect the democracy but has received much backlash for this decision. Social media has had a huge impact on the election so far, as I find it nearly impossible to not stumble across some type of political ad each day on social media. While I think Zuckerberg’s decision to block political ads the week leading up the election could be a very impactful, I think right now more than ever is the most crucial point for the election. After the debate, I have found both Facebook and Instagram flooded with nonstop posts of the debates and candidates. A large amount of these posts being misinformation. This is very misleading as if you did not watch the debate yourself, it would be easy to believe this misinformation. Mark Zuckerberg has a lot of power, with such a large number of users, to make a serious impact on the election. Any decisions he makes regarding political content posting on his sites, could change a lot for this election day. Zuckerberg and his sites have the power to start many conspiracies and spread misinformation, which most users have seen an abundance of these last few months.

  30. While Charlie Warzel’s article entails many great points, it is no shock to me that Mark Zuckerberg is the most powerful unelected man in America. At the end of the day, Facebook is a business and like most businesses, they have a realm of influence that often leads to various political outcomes whether unintentionally or intentionally. Most businesses exercise their power through the process of lobbying. The Guardian mentions that “Lobbyists are the paid persuaders whose job it is to influence the decisions of government. Typically, they operate behind closed doors, through quiet negotiation with politicians” (Cave and Rowell). However, what makes Facebook an entity that stands out among other businesses is that Facebook does not need a third party (e.g. politicians) in order to influence political agendas. Facebook can exercise its power by simply regulating what users can post and not post just the way Facebook plans to do during the week before the election in aims to “protect the U.S. elections” (Warzel). Charlie Warzel writes that facebook plans to “block new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day and attach labels to posts containing misinformation, specifically related to the coronavirus and posts from politicians [that declare victory] before all the results are counted.” I think it is interesting that Warzel compares Facebook to a self-regulating government and I definitely can see some similarities as to why Warzel would come to that conclusion. For example, if you think about where a democracy gets its power from it is the people. So much so, that the Declaration of Independence (US 1776) states “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” In other words, the government receives its power from the people, like Mark Zuckerberg receives his power from us as consumers. Successfully enough, Zuckerberg has been able to create networking sites that let us as individuals amplify our voices, while also attempting to ensure fair elections given the amount of sway Zuckerberg has.

    Furthermore, before reading this article, I often have considered the power we have as individuals to broadcast our views on social media, but I never thought about the power Mark Zuckerberg actually holds in that he can dictate what kind of information Facebook users can see and post, especially as it pertains to political content like elections. However, after reading the article I do not view the problems that occurred under Zuckerberg’s leadership (e.g misinformation) necessarily as solely his fault. Warzel mentions that because of Mark Zuckerberg’s power, Facebook is often used to induce misinformation as well as creating a platform for political manipulation. I do not think that Zuckerberg’s power as CEO is to blame for why false and deceiving information is often advertised on Facebook, or any social media site for that matter. I do not think that Zuckerberg’s power is any different from the influence that news articles and broadcasting sites have around the world. In other words, the same way political manipulation occurs on Facebook is the same way political manipulation occurs on fake news sites that many people rely on an everyday basis. As far as I understand, Zuckerberg does not use his power in a way that promotes an ill agenda. Personally, I do not see a black or white answer that will allow Zuckerberg to prohibit misinformation from circling on Facebook. According to statistics, 2.7 billion people are recorded to have used Facebook regularly (Clement). My question as a follow-up to this article is how would Zuckerberg altogether be able to regulate content among 2.7 billion people to ensure the disposal of misinformation? Misinformation is definitely a cause for concern, but I do not think that the problem just comes down to one person. Misinformation is a worldwide issue that is not just prevalent among Mark Zuckerberg and the platforms he created.

    Works cited:
    Cave, Tamasin, and Andy Rowell. “The Truth about Lobbying: 10 Ways Big Business Controls Government.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 12 Mar. 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/12/lobbying-10-ways-corprations-influence-government.
    Clement, J. “Facebook: Active Users Worldwide.” Statista, 10 Aug. 2020, http://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/.

  31. This is very interesting because it shows how social media has such an impact on the world, and especially politics. The fact that Mark Zuckerberg, Co-founder and CEO of Facebook, has to have his app and website monitored for any political propaganda, shows how mainstream and popular Facebook is. I have family overseas in Italy, so it is hard to keep in touch with them. However they all have Facebook and are able to keep in touch with my family here in America. What that shows is how global Facebook is, because my family is not the only one that keeps in touch through Facebook.There are tons of families that do this, evident by the fact that 2.7 billion people are on Facebook and 190 million people in America. For scale, there are 7.5 billion people in the world, so that is around 36 percent of people around the world that use Facebook. That is a lot of people to say the least. Since there are a lot of users in the United States of America, it makes sense for Mark Zuckerberg to want to monitor it. Especially if people out there plan to use the platform for political propaganda. Obviously propaganda is not allowed in the United States because it is defamation, but I wonder what exactly will be removed from the website and app? Because if Facebook decides to not allow any politics then there will be no problem, but if they pick and choose as to what is appropriate and what is not, then they could be treading in some dangerous water. I say this because people may feel that their first amendment rights are being violated, especially since there are people that put up some crazy stuff on facebook and it does not get taken down. These people who are being silenced may feel that there is bias, which is why if Zuckerberg will go through with this, he needs to postpone all political talk, because his website may have an incoming lawsuit from an angry American.

  32. This article by the NY Times discusses how Mark Zuckerberg is the most powerful nonelected man in the United States. Is this true for just the United States? I think Mr, Zuckerberg is the most powerful non elected official across nearly the whole world excluding some families with extreme wealth who can control full countries. Mark is more powerful than most elected officials besides the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries. Even with them included Mark has the ability to influence people all over the globe with changes he could make to Facebook. A slight ad could influence a whole election and the formula they use to show content to people controls most of their lives. If you look deeper Mark has power over all users of Facebook and what they see. Facebook has 2.7 billion users which are more than the 2 most populated countries combined. Mark has influence and full control over what would be the largest country in the world by far. Even with all that included the top leaders all actively use social medias and have facebook accounts. Mark can influence them included. Does he have the power to start a war, make global decisions, or directly control a country? No, but he has power over almost all of the people in those positions. I believe he is easily the most powerful nonelected man in America, one of the top in the world, but also an argument that he could be the most indirectly powerful men in the world. To look at a man who is 36 years old and all he did was create a code and website, it is inspiring to see the position he has reached. Although mistakes have been made and the site security is not always at the tippy top, Mark has made many smart decisions in life. Most people may underestimate the power of social media still but fail to be able to imagine a modern time without it. Social media has granted many people with power unsustainable to most and are they able to handle that? Not all are but the man who has created the biggest social media has been.

  33. 60% of Facebook is owned by Mark Zuckerberg, like the article said he has the ability to decide what is put out to the 2.6 billion people across Facebook and other Facebook owned applications. That is about 35% of the worlds population that Zuckerberg relays info to. Obviously Zuckerberg is putting any propaganda out there but Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, says Zuckerberg’s “power is unprecedented an un-american.” Nothing like the power of Zuckerberg has been seen, since he is the CEO and holds majority voting shares. He controls 3 of the 5 largest communication applications in the world:Instagram, Whats App and Facebook: the other two being YouTube and Google.

    Although Zuckerberg may not have done anything yet, one man having all that power can be a determent to society, the split would cause a checks and balances system that would prevent any potential harm that Zuckerberg would want to do.

  34. In 2020 it is unfathomable that the most powerful man in the world has a monopoly over everyone through social media. Mark Zuckerberg is in complete control of algorithms that are seen by each person that has an account on Facebook. The company has created different algorithms to please what each customer likes or dislikes. Mark Zuckerberg recently purchased Instagram as well as WhatsApp. This was a very intelligent business decision as more of the younger generation is using Instagram as the main social media rather than Facebook. One downside to how Facebook generates revenue is through advertisements. Unfortunately, there is just too much data out there that the company cannot screen all advertisements to make sure everything is appropriate. Facebook has faced many issues with selling private information about people to companies to benefit them with their advertising. This does not sit well with people as this is an invasion of privacy, and quite scary knowing that your private information is all out there to the public. For the 2020 election, Facebook is planning on screening all its advertisements to provide assurance that nothing being advertised is false or untrue. This is definitely where Facebook should direct themselves to gain the trust of people again. They have to prioritize the customer instead of benefiting from selling customers’ information.

  35. Zuckerberg owns the biggest, and some of the other biggest social media platforms in the world. He has influence over people of all ages and people all around the world. The two biggest platforms he owns are Facebook and Instagram. Together, these apps have over 3.7 billion active monthly users. This is just about half of the population of the world. I am sure there is some overlap in the two apps so there is not 3.7 billion different people, but the outreach and influence he has on the world is bigger than I could have ever realized. The idea that a 36-year-old man who owns social media platforms could be considered one of the most powerful men in America almost seems made up.
    Since he has an astonishing amount of influence over so many people, it would be a shame to not use that power to do something good. However, it does not seem like his idea was executed successfully. Just a mere week before election day he plans on blocking political ads and adding “misleading post” labels to posts with misinformation. I remember people were calling for him to do this since Facebook has a large amount of political posts, and so much false information is being passed around. This is especially important for Facebook since there are almost 3 billion users per month. He listened to the people and implemented a sort of fact check for these posts, but according to Warzel, these warnings are just adding confusion. Additionally, blocking out political ads in the most important week in the political world seems a bit silly. Education and information are desperately needed in politics, as we are preparing our vote on who is going to lead our country for the next four years. Maybe I am not fully understanding why he has implemented these changes, but for now I do not think he has made a good decision.
    It is also interesting to see that Facebook has the power to limit political propaganda, yet I have seen multiple times, and even in my own town, people being blatantly racist on their public posts. I understand the argument of free speech, but on numerous occasions I have seen white adults bullying and teaming up against young black people. Apart from the fact that this should be illegal everywhere, why is Zuckerberg trying to censor political posts but not putting more effort into racist ones. If he is so worried about the people learning false information and being influenced from this information, shouldn’t he also be worried about people being influenced by possibly seeing people they look up to being racist?
    I think now, more than ever, it is important to be educated and know what is going on in the world. With Zuckerberg blocking political posts, it could prevent many people from getting necessary information about the state of the world. I do not agree with his censorship, yet it is his app so he can do as he pleases.

  36. Mark Zuckerburg is no doubt one of the most powerful people in the world, and more than likely the most powerful unelected man in America. Owning companies such as Facebook and Instagram, with Facebook having ~1.79 billion users daily and Instagram having over 500 million daily users. The fact that he has this much control and power over what these people see and them checking into his social media applications is very powerful. His ability to limit and ban political posts in the upcoming weeks of election day also is a reason that makes him a very powerful man in America. His reach to the American population is unimaginable. He has the younger generation and the older generation in the palms of his hands since younger people tend to use Instagram more and older people tend to use Facebook more. He can control with algorithms within Facebook and Instagram what is deemed as “fake news” and what is deemed as credible information. This, however, can be both a blessing and a curse. For example, some breaking news can happen that the public should know about prior to the election, and people who depend on sites like Facebook and Instagram will not have access to this information because of the censorship existing. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, if there is something clearly incorrect being spread by a certain political party as a means to get an upper hand for the upcoming election, then that would be a good case in which censorship and flagging information as misinformation is needed. Nobody wants to be misled because once they realize that they were misled it makes them question their sources. Overall, having the ability to do this and flag certain posts as “fake” or “misleading” is very powerful, especially if you have more than 1 billion people active on your applications every day.

  37. If you have not heard of Mark Zuckerberg or do not know Facebook, you are living under a rock or you really have no interest in social media, which is practically impossible today. The New York Times article announced that Mark Zuckerberg is the most powerful unelected man in America, and they are not wrong for making that claim. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder, and owner of Facebook has changed the social media industry and essentially made it become popular worldwide. Mr. Zuckerberg “controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp” and owns around 60 percent of voting shares. Clearly, the fact that Mr. Zuckerberg owns the two biggest social media apps and has over half the votes for both apps, shows how powerful he is not only in the technology industry, but in America as a whole. Furthermore, the growth of Facebook has proven Mr. Zuckerberg’s power in America. Facebook has been one of the biggest influential social media apps as “one out of three people use” the app. The fact that Mr. Zuckerberg has the ability to display whatever he wants on his app to his billion users shows how powerful the man really is. Another way to show that Mark Zuckerberg is very successful and powerful is the net worth of his apps. The net worth of Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp are $100 billion, $527 billion, and $1.5 billion, respectively; in total, Mr. Zuckerberg has a whopping net worth, from these three apps, of approximately $650 billion. Not only is Mark Zuckerberg influential to the technology industry, but he also makes an impact on the business industry as well. In the article, the author states Zuckerberg’s app, Facebook, “helped accelerate the collapse of journalism’s broken business models”. The fact that a social media app can make a huge impact towards these business models shows how influential Mr. Zuckerberg really is. Clearly, it is not arguable if Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most powerful and influential people in America today. Zuckerberg started the rise of social media when he invented Facebook and since then many other apps derived from his creation.

  38. Facebook is a huge, influential social media platform because of the large user base that spans across a wide variety of ages. People joke that Facebook is for parents, but the younger people who favor other social media still use it to catch up with friends or family members. Since the app appeals to so many people across every age group, Facebook can easily influence their users by choosing what to display on their site. In an attempt to keep users informed, Zuckerberg tried removing inaccurate posts related to the Coronavirus and from politicians boasting information before the facts are checked for accuracy. People question just how useful this will be and question how Zuckerberg could think his input could be as helpful as anticipated. People have their sides they believe in and listen to but the undecided may be affected by those posts on facebook that are misleading and may cause ill informed decisions. Along with removing these posts, Facebook has adjusted their algorithm so you not only see notifications from groups you are a part of, but also groups that Facebook thinks you would like to join (Greer). This will restrict what people read, so they are only seeing information based on what they already believe and will continue to see only one side of the story. People worry that this will only make things worse by supercharging groups and conspiracies into toxic and harmful groups.

    People also believe that Facebook has an alternative motive to have a business model that violates democracy and basic human rights. Facebook will project a new idea to the media to show that they are keeping people’s best interest and safety in mind while really doing more harm behind the scenes. This started with the scandal of violating user’s privacy by allowing other companies to access their data (PYMNTS). Facebook’s influence also caused a collapse to the journalism business model resulting in many journalists losing their job. Facebook strategically uses digital advertising marketing to control the types of posts shown on the site whether accurate or inaccurate. This is what makes it the perfect place for political manipulation to take place. Some people think Facebook is assuming a position larger than they deserve and others argue Zuckerberg does not understand just how influential his position is. Although some people believe Zuckerberg is using his massive platform to manipulate or harm others, I think it is more a matter of not understanding just how influential he and his company are. This article quoted Siva Vaidhyanathan, who said “I’m not sure Mark Zuckerberg is even willing to contemplate his influence. I’m not sure he’d ever sleep if he ever thought about how much power he has.” Zuckerberg is a person of influence since he is a public figure, and people like him need to understand that their actions not only affect themselves, but everyone who looks up to him and uses his social media sites. You need to be aware when you do have influential powers because then people will follow your lead and you need to make sure that what you are doing sets exemplary actions for the public to follow.

  39. It’s nice to see Facebook’s efforts to protect our elections from foul play. A company who has been under fire for their own mischievous actions under the radar in previous years is now making an effort to help better American functionality. There is so much misinformation spread throughout the internet, and especially regarding political topics. Every news website in the country has at least one piece of “knowledge” that isn’t true about a political figure or story. For Facebook to implement labels that will be attached to verified false information is huge for the average user who browses the social media platform daily. The everyday Facebook user could easily come across a plethora of news that could all be untrue. Protection of fact versus fiction is imperative in order to correctly inform the typical voter of what each political party candidate is truly representing when they run for office.
    The presence Mark Zuckerberg can have in any country’s politics for that matter, let alone just America, is very eye-opening. A college drop-out, who created one of the first major social media platforms is now in direct involvement with the safety and security of our presidential election. Zuckerberg’s reputation isn’t crystal clean, but the efforts he is making now with his company will help voters make informed decisions rather than just a lackadaisical click of a button.
    It wouldn’t be absurd to question just how effective these measures will be, but any effort to preserve true fact and separate truth from conjured up lies is a service to this nation and the beliefs it upholds. I’m not fully convinced Zuckerberg is a clean-cut individual, but what he’s doing right now for this country is the kind of help we need right now during an election of such pivotal caliber.

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