Zucked : Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe – Book Reaction

“Has Zucked” by Rodger McNamee demonstrates that Facebook is among the most popular businesses in history. McNamee (2020) asserts that Facebook has a 2.2 billion fan base and more than 40 billion revenues by 2017, which shows that the company is nothing short of wild success. Other than being profitable and popular, Facebook is also influential. McNamee narrates that in less than two decades, the firm emerged as an essential part of the public sphere as the platform that people use to communicate with their friends but exchange ideas, read the news, and discuss the news of the day. However, according to McNamee, Facebook’s popularity and influence disguise a dark reality as it is devoid of civic or moral values to guide it. With the absence of stringent regulation in its operation, Facebook is actively harming contemporary society. The book indicates that Facebook relies on manipulative approaches to keep its users hooked, and one of its sides is polarizing public discussions. Facebook thrives on increasing consumers to advertisers, surveillance, and collecting user’s data to keep them hooked on the site. McNamee argues that it has become easy for external forces such as Russia to use Facebook to incite users in the U.S.

            The inequality discussed in the book is believed that Facebook has led to economic unfairness. It increases the wealth of its owners using the data from its users without prior permission. Mark Zuckerberg is currently one of the top wealthy class as a result of exploiting Facebook users. All Facebook users are “Zucked” due to the involuntary exchange of individual data for social links, making people in society not get involved in anything in the community without benefiting the owner of Facebook.

            The mechanisms and power dynamics that underlie these different forms of inequality that Facebook uses include economic and technological changes that enabled its growth and a disastrous internal culture. The book holds that Facebook started during the early stages of the 21st century. During this period, technological advancements fundamentally increased the growth of this social site. When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004, many hindrances to new startups had just been overtaken. Professional engineers were able to build products quickly courtesy of open-source elements such as the browser Mozilla. The book also adds that the advent of cloud storage implied that new entrants could merely pay a monthly fee for all the network infrastructure instead of constructing something costly. Huge businesses such as Facebook no longer needed to operate slowly towards perfection before introducing a market product. Facebook could easily construct something fundamental, push it to users and update it from there. The power of Facebook originated from its popular philosophy, “move fast and break things.”

            McNamee (2020) says that it did everything under its power to strip out sources of friction for Facebook to multiply to ensure that the business would free from regulation and the product would free. Through such techniques, Facebook avoided the need for transparency throughout its algorithms that could lead to criticism. Consequentially, these were the right requirements for the development of a global superstar, and they were also requirements that led to a disregard for user privacy, civic and safety responsibility.

            Another dynamic of inequality that Facebook used was the aggressive gathering of its users’ data and blatant disregard for users’ privacy. According to the book, Facebook owns about 29000 data points from each of its subscribers. This implies that the social media giant knows 29000 little things about its individual user’s life, ranging from what a user likes the most to the people they have been socializing with lately. Nations such as Russia used Facebook as a proper way of influencing U.S. elections. In 2016 Russia disseminated numerous Facebook content that negatively affected U.S voters. The Russian tactics were to rile up Trump supporters while depressing the potential turnout of Democrat voters. It was identified that Russia maximized on the Facebook groups to target various demographics. For instance, Russian operatives managed numerous key groups to poison black people’s minds, such as the group of Blacktivist primarily with the target of spreading misinformation that would minimize the possibility of Facebook users voting for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

            The book shows that Russia’s ability to influence different groups in America was openly seen during the notorious instance of the 2016 Houston mosque riots when Facebook ran the Russian orchestrated protests both for and against Islam in Texas. The manipulation was a strategy by the Russian authority to sow discord and compromise the U.S.-centered anti-immigrants and anti-minority sentiment. Russia knew that the creation of such propaganda would work into Trump’s hands, winning the 2016 elections.            

The best thing that can be done to curb the inequality and manipulation caused by Facebook to society is to form stringent regulations to control the harm that the social giant can do. Mark Zuckerberg should be answerable to all the misappropriation originating from Facebook. The federal government should manage the misuse of users’ data and other extreme cases such as Russia’s incidence in 2016, where they influenced voters in favor of Trump. Additionally, another scandal such as Cambridge Analytica means that the federal government should seriously implement laws that effectively manage Facebook behavior. Time is due to the use of external regulation to safeguard our society’s fabric. If nothing happens, the economic inequality peddled with Facebook is designed to weaken any competitor’s absolute market power to this social giant site.

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