THE ISSUE: Is it okay for Facebook to be sharing data? Do people care? Should people care? In this round of viewpoints, two editorial board members debate to what degree we can accept Facebook sharing data with third parties.
The opposing viewpoint can be found here.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has become, perhaps, the most memed man in America right now. After testifying in front of the Senate, social media was flooded with memes of Zuckerberg about everything from his robotic nature to the booster seat that he sat on. Yet, despite the ostensibly funny nature of the memes, the hearing itself was worrying.
For those who watched the hearing, some of the questions that were asked were downright terrifying. Not because the questions revealed the overarching reach of the all-powerful Facebook, but because they didn’t. In fact, the questions asked by our representatives were downright disappointing — exposing a lack of understanding or letting Zuckerberg waffle around the issue without ever saying anything. For example, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) asked a question about emailing within Whatsapp.
Apparently the Honorable Senator was unaware that the Whatsapp service was a messaging platform, not an email service. Perhaps the most pivotal legal question that Facebook is facing right now — whether Facebook is a platform or a publisher — was never directly asked. In short, our representatives have no idea what they are dealing with.
This is incredibly worrying. Our congress and senate are filled with old men and women who don’t know how the world works now and are supposed to pass laws to prepare us for the future. Some of these same concerns have been raised about the Supreme Court in the past: that they don’t understand the technology — and its implications — that they are ruling on. Our judiciary is ruling on the constitutionality of technology that they do not understand and our legislature is attempting to regulate companies whose purpose they cannot comprehend.