You probably don’t need to read the headlines of WhatsApp’s CoFounder telling a group of students at Stanford to delete their Facebook accounts, or read about executives abandoning Facebook over privacy issues to understand that the company is undergoing a period of changes. And it’s easy to jump into the criticism wagon and complain retroactively. You could hear journalists saying that lawmakers should have done something sooner, other’s say that Facebook lost control of their own platform, other critics might even suggest that Facebook is taking too long to start self-regulating.
This may not be a popular thought, but in a Laissez-faire market, you will rarely see a business, specially as successful and as disruptive as Facebook, volunteering to regulate their possibilities to dominate the market.
So the fact that we are seeing all the changes unraveling in front of our eyes lately, as a consequence of the tool being used to spread propaganda in our last presidential election is not a surprise. The fact, that Facebook is taking important measurements to adjust their offerings before the government does, is a natural reaction to a brand implementing damage control to remain afloat and competitive.
This is not the first time this has happened. Historically businesses have been known to violate all rules, even to the point of being dehumanizing and in the wrong side of history with the pure excuse of being competitive. All aware of their wrongdoings, and no one willing to take the first step of self-regulating because they wanted to remain competitive and were afraid of losing market share. I’m not saying that we should not be advocates for our right to privacy, I’m just saying that for those acting like Facebook is the most amoral company out there, they must understand that they are a consequence, and an evolution of our own needs.
Yes, I applaud the addition of Click-Gap signal to regulate sites that could be using Facebook to beat the system and spread damaging propaganda. Yes, I applaud those advocating for political advertising regulation to be applied online. Yes, I applaud good measurements, and I celebrate public opinion and markets forcing companies and governments to take action to correct their mistakes. But asking governments to intervene too soon to regulate business that are pushing the boundaries of innovation could be detrimental to our advancement as a society.
I get you. “It’s really hard to say I’m sorry”, and self-regulating is your passive aggressive way to apologize. Push boundaries and be willing to correct, but don’t be a victim of your own blind spot. We all suffer from confirmation bias. Even you do, Facebook. It may have seem easier to double down. Hopefully, you understood that it is a risky game.