Facebook and Capitalism

The problems with Facebook are humongous, but one thing is clear. Facebook is a creature of capitalism that knows only one rule: growth at all costs. Growth is becoming unsustainable in the world and governments are unable to curb its excesses. Witness the inability of the U.S. government to reform the governance structures of corporations like Facebook so that they become less focused on share price and quarterly returns and concentrate on more value for all. It is inconceivable that during the COVID-19 epidemic the portfolio of the rich grew by 40% while a large swath of humanity tried to survive while it faced great obstacles in getting the anti-virus vaccines.The behemoths of the Facebook variety resist all pressures to reform and play an immutable refrain that asks for lower taxes, less regulation, less government and more market.It has always been clear that the business of Facebook is not promoting the public interest but making more and more money. Its business model is devoted to promoting controversial content in order to keep users on the site viewing ads that Facebook sells. One of the questions that Congress must respond to is whether Facebook exercises a true monopoly power. This power is such that many doubt that Facebook will ever be willing or able to reform itself, starting with giving up the algorithms that increase its politically divisive content.One way to tackle the problem would be to put more power in the hands of regulators. The main problem is that regulators are stymied or lobbied by businesses with the result that they endorse policies that promote financial growth and make businesses even richer. In the scandalous world created by Facebook, there is a ray of hope, the acknowledgment – thanks to a courageous whistleblower – that the disruptive role of Facebook can no longer be ignored and that Congress will have to sanction it or at the very least take away the special immunity from liability that Facebook and similar consortia have received. It is high time for the Congress to act.

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