I have been a proponent of Facebook regulation ever since it was revealed what they were doing with user data. Some people feel that the government should go even farther, and they should break up the company. I am not sure that it’s the way to go. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg feels that it should stay together as one whole, and he has an interesting argument. In the past, Zuckerberg’s argument was that Facebook isn’t a monopoly, because it has competitors. But now he’s saying that breaking up Facebook would be bad for America. Why exactly? It would clear the way for Chinese tech companies to step in and dominate.
This might be a bit of a stretch, but at the same time, Zuckerberg has a point. Chinese companies don’t necessarily care about American values. Which means, these companies could come in and they wouldn’t necessarily deliver what is best for America. That said, let’s look at this in a different way. Zuckerberg doesn’t feel that Facebook is an American company, necessarily. In fact, most of their revenue is generated outside of the United States, except for WhatsApp and Messenger. So what difference would it make, from a value or even a policy perspective, if Facebook didn’t exist?
Zuckerberg’s argument is very pro-America, and almost sounds like it came straight out of Donald Trump’s playbook. More simply put, if Facebook didn’t exist as it does now, it means they are at risk of losing their market share and therefore the gaps could be filled by other companies – such as those in China.
Congress has asked the Federal Trade Commission to explore the breaking up of Facebook, but is that really what’s going to happen? I don’t think that anyone thinks that breaking up Facebook is a good idea. But frankly, it’s too large and extremely unruly at this time. I’m not suggesting that I’m either for or against this idea based on the “American values” angle. Because I don’t think that we should quantify it that way. If there is a decision to break up Facebook, I think it should be for a valid argument. Not because by doing this, it’s going to degrade the “Make America Great Again” campaign.
That said, I think that Congress does need to explore their options. Perhaps it’s around developing regulations. Social networks don’t have any real regulations at present, and I’ve said this before – they are ruling the world. If I can get political for a moment, this is exactly why Donald Trump allegedly used Facebook to help him win the 2016 presidential election. Social networks and tech giants have a lot more influence over our lives than the government in many ways.
All of that said, what’s interesting is that Facebook is still banned in China. That’s why competitors have come forward in China, and have been successful. Zuckerberg doesn’t feel like he will be able to do anything in China any time soon, so maybe his real argument for this Chinese scenario is out of frustration and maybe not a viable option in the first place?