A provocative quote from Kara Swisher (technology thought leader, editor Recode): “We are giant digital cities that were built without adequate police, fire, medical or safety personnel, decent street signs or any kind of rules that would make them work smoothly.”
The above quote resonated for me last week when I read that fifty state attorneys launched an investigation to determine whether Google is violating antitrust regulations. Interesting move, but candidly too little, too late. From my perspective, the tech giants have gone unregulated for too long. Case in point: The Cambridge Analytica, Facebook data scandal in March of 2018. Eventually, the FTC levied a $5 billion fine, a drop-in-the-bucket given Facebook reported $15.08 billion in 1st quarter 2019 sales. Most advocacy groups believe the FTC fine will not force Facebook to rethink their responsibility to protect user data in the future. Despite all the news, misinformation and controversies since the scandal, a study from Pew Research Center indicated that 26% of Americans deleted their Facebook app. Mixpanel, a research firm and The Guardian have tracked a significant decline (20%) in Facebook usage since the scandal was revealed.
I am one of the Americans who canceled my Facebook account. I was deeply concerned Cambridge Analytica was the tip of the iceberg and there were numerous situations Facebook was compromising their user’s data. In addition, I was alarmed that Facebook’s understaffed policy enforcement team was unable to police and establish advertising and publishing standards/policies. Recent case in point: Last month a BBC investigation revealed how Facebook was being used by traffickers to buy and sell antiquities illegally excavated/looted from tombs in Syria and Iraq.
To safeguard the beneficial growth of the web, time to reel in and regulate high-tech!