Lance Scranton: These are the good guys, right?
April 17, 2018
Congress sat around grilling good guy Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook fame, last week and attempted to make sense of his multi-billion dollar social media platform and its effect on free speech, how it collects user information and a host of security issues.
Most of you who read this column are likely pleased with the benefits Facebook has provided with respect to the scope and reach of your communication potential. You are also aware of the absolute junk that appears in the feed. Sure, you can block, or unfriend or block but not unfriend, but the mindless junk just keeps popping up regardless of your attempts.
Facebook is famous for providing users with a unique, personalized experience by using algorithms to curate news for your feed, which is a technical way of letting you know you'll get the things you want to see, but you'll also get other information you didn't know you wanted to see, but Facebook has taken the guesswork out of it for you. Aren't they nice! You don't have to seek out information — Facebook will find it for you and make it available to you, at no charge, right at your fingertips.
What an amazing world we find ourselves in as the volumes of information made available to us can be sorted out by some mathematical equation, and we get what we want — or, what Facebook thinks we need!
The point of having access to technology is to provide us with the opportunity and option to have information immediately available. But, suppose the providers of the information have just an itty bitty bias and don't really like, or appreciate, the information your algorithm determines should be sent your way. Might it be possible that the people in charge slightly adjust their complicated calculations to leave out certain news and information sources you might find interesting to read?
'That would never happen, would it, in a free society, with freedom of expression and freedom of information and freedom to think, say, and do? Surely, the good guy arbiters of information would never take part in an act of societal betrayal by "managing" information and trying to influence an entire populace toward a certain viewpoint? Wouldn't that be just about the most anti-intellectual, un-American and patently abusive misuse of power an organization could undertake?
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The good guys wouldn't suppose their personal opinions and corporate views supercede the right and free expression of thought that is the bedrock of our constitutional democracy (and their business model) would they?
No, by making all this information available to us for free and telling us how much they believe in free speech and freedom of expression, our social media platforms are a beacon of hope and trust.
They are the good guys — right?