Be careful what you wish for

The whistleblower was on the Hill yesterday. She told her story. Nothing new. “Facebook is evil.” Got it.

(No one spoke about the fact that Facebook’s money comes from the advertisers who earn their living leveraging Facebook’s audience. In other words, Facebook’s business model is fully supported by the businesses that advertise on the platform, but we’ll get to that later.)

Lawmakers grandstanded, asked questions written by their staffers, and when they got to ad lib, it became clear (as it always does) that none of them know enough to responsibly regulate this set of issues.

Zuck and others representing Facebook and Big Tech have been on the Hill dozens of times in the past few years, and our lawmakers have done nothing but grandstand, ask a few questions, and prove they don’t understand the issues. There have been no laws passed, which is probably a good thing.

In the face of overwhelming evidence that “something must be done,” my fear is that they are going to do something. It will be a political knee-jerk reaction to a problem so complex that the most informed people in the world cannot come to a consensus about a regulatory strategy, let alone a tactical regulatory roadmap.

This weekend, I want to see if we can pull together the best ideas about how to curtail social media addiction, protect privacy, reduce mental health risks, reduce weaponized information, eliminate hate speech and misinformation, and deal with data governance.

These are not soundbite issues. If you post something harmful, should Facebook have the obligation to take it down? Do you have any responsibility for the content of the post? If so, what penalties should you be subjected to? If you were a “real” journalist, you would not need to reveal your sources. Are you a “real” journalist? What is a “real” journalist? Who should be the arbiter of truth? Whose worldview should social media companies be forced to adopt?

The subtle questions are endless, and each adds a layer of complexity to an already explosively complex set of problems.

Let’s all try to be the architects of the future we want to live in. Post your ideas on PGX, our private social network, and let’s get a strong dialog going about what should be done and how to do it. I’ll try to collect the best and the worst ideas for my Sunday essay.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication and the CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, writes a weekly column for Adweek, and is a regular commentator on CNN and CNBC and writes a popular daily business blog. He’s the Co-Host of the award-winning podcast Techstream with Shelly Palmer & Seth Everett and he hosts the Shelly Palmer #CryptoWednesday Livestream. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.

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