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 , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Imagine this; you are a powerful person with the wealth you have created to begin with, and now you have control over a multinational media based conglomerate. With this said company, you can monitor people and their thoughts and their decisions on public policy as well as any other real world issues happening every single day. Whether it is for political means, marketing, religious beliefs, or just voicing ones opinion, you have complete dictation over who can spread their thoughts on this so called media site. This is a very intimidating reality due to the powerhouse company, Facebook, owned and controlled by Mark Zuckerberg, an American media magnate, internet entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Facebook, being a well-known and very popular social media platform, attracts a unimaginable amount of users from all sorts of parts of the world. These people, unknowingly, are being watched and scoured upon by Facebook. Their interests, ideas, personal beliefs, and so-called private kept information is being recorded by algorithms and sold to other companies. It is no wonder why many people are found in disbelief that something related to what they were just talking about on one media platform not-so-coincidentally shows up on another. This is because these companies are all in business with one another, buying and selling information about their users in order to benefit their marketing. Being that Mr. Zuckerberg has control over two of the arguably largest media platforms used today, it is to no surprise that he can be referred to as the most powerful unelected person in this world today.
    I personally stand strongly against big tech and their means of business in this world. Some of the silencing and censoring that happens unjustly on these media platforms everyday can be seen as a communistic way of control. Though this is a large accusation, it can be found true with simple research into Facebook and Instagram alike. This so-called sensory has the potential to silence individuals trying to voice their opinions. In the same way, the media platforms can also promote the viewing of certain information to get a group of people to believe a certain thing. This is happening. Whether or not one is to believe it questions the fact that they may have already fallen victim to this media manipulation. It is horrifying and unpredictable. Sketchy is an understatement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.