Before the Cambridge Analytica story had broken. Before Facebook’s acknowledgement that its platform had been wont to help incite group action in Myanmar. Before the WhatsApp lynchings in India. Before QAnon and therefore the Proud Boys – Mark Zuckerberg had the planet at his feet.
So much so actually , that at the beginning of 2017 he decided to tour America.
In a Facebook post, he said he wished to “talk to more people about how they’re living, working and brooding about the future”.
His goal was to talk to people altogether 50 states – to urge out and have interaction with real Americans.
It was seen by some because the start of a possible 2020 presidential bid – something he always denied.
His potential candidacy was seriously debated within the press – he had money, drive, and power.
This week, Joe Biden took the work that a lot of believe Mark Zuckerberg secretly craves, or a minimum of craved. And in doing so, he completed a reverse metamorphosis for Zuckerberg. A butterfly not , he finds himself alienated politically.
“He’s not a welcome figure at the party any longer . and that i don’t think he has been for an extended time,” says Sarah Miller, director of the American Economic Liberties Project. She also happens to get on Joe Biden’s transition team.
“There isn’t tons of affection lost there,” she told me. “Facebook is broadly seen because the most prominent villain, among all the tech monopolists.”
Obama’s administration was considered to be on the brink of Silicon Valley and to Facebook. If Biden was ever a lover , he is not now.
In fact, the president often uses Facebook as a byword for the ills of a free internet gone wrong.
Talking to the ny Times a year ago he said:
“I’ve never been a lover of Facebook, as you almost certainly know. I’ve never been an enormous Zuckerberg fan. i feel he’s a true problem.”
It’s not just Biden. within the days after Biden’s election victory, his deputy head of communications, Bill Russo, tweeted:
“If you thought disinformation on Facebook was a drag during our election, just wait until you see how it’s shredding the material of our democracy within the days after.”
Democrats blame Facebook for what happened in 2016. The Republicans’ use of Cambridge Analytica to micro-target voters was seen as an important component in Trump’s victory. a number of the angst is about settling old scores.
But if that was the turning point, relations are even worse now. Since then, Democrats – Joe Biden included – are appalled by what Facebook has allowed on its platform.
Talking to a CNN anchor in late 2019 Joe Biden said:
“You can’t do what they will do on Facebook, and say anything in the least , and not acknowledge once you know something is fundamentally not true. I just think it’s all out of hand.”
Devastating for Facebook
When you are a billionaire, perhaps it doesn’t matter that the president doesn’t such as you much.
But what President Biden features a chance to try to to now’s restructure Big Tech and reformulate the connection that social media companies have with their users.
That could be devastating for Facebook.
Its most blatant problem is that the potential repealing of Section 230.
This is alittle but crucial piece of legislation that forestalls companies like Facebook from being sued for the items people post.
Joe Biden has said he wants it removed. In fact, therein same ny Times interview from a year ago he said he wanted it “revoked immediately”.
That could spell disaster for Zuckerberg. Suddenly all the items people post, all of the defamatory and fraudulent things people say – would be the responsibility of Facebook. It’s hard to ascertain how Facebook functions in its current form without Section 230.
And that’s before we get into Facebook’s anti-trust problems. It’s currently being sued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 46 states for “illegally maintaining its monopoly position” by buying up the competition.
The FTC has also said it’s watching “unwinding Facebook’s prior acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp” – ie breaking the arrange .
Facebook will, of course, fight that. But Biden seems a reasonably willing ally to those that want to separate up Big Tech.
In 2019, he said that ending companies like Facebook was “something we should always take a very hard look at”.
Jameel Jaffer, a media jurist at Columbia University , told me: “I would expect the Biden administration to be pretty aggressive in enforcing the anti-trust laws. And to possess the entire spectrum of harms in mind, not just the democratic harms, but harms concerning user privacy and consumer welfare.”
President Biden is even reportedly thinking of making an anti-trust tsar, designed specifically to revive competition in areas like Big Tech.
Donald Trump and other Republicans always claimed that Facebook was too liberal, that it had been biased against conservatives. But Trump did alright out of the platform. Both Trump and his status supporters regularly featured within the top 10 most shared Facebook posts of the day.
Trump’s indefinite suspension from both Instagram and Facebook in fact changes that dynamic again. But would he are suspended if he’d had a year to travel of his presidency instead of a week?
Trump’s suspension has got to be seen through that lens. Facebook is now scrambling to point out it can moderate itself – that it agrees with Joe Biden’s view that a free internet isn’t necessarily an excellent and glorious thing.
And what better thanks to show you’re serious than banning the president?
Joe Biden though, doesn’t like Facebook. That die is cast.
What he now decides to try to to to Big Tech could be framed around his dislike of the social network, and its emperor, Mark Zuckerberg.