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#30A Threat to Democracy

This makes for a dangerous mix: a company that reaches most of the country every day and has the most detailed set of personal data ever assembled, but has no incentive to prevent abuse. Facebook needs to be regulated more tightly, or broken up so that no single entity controls all of its data. The company won’t protect us by itself, and nothing less than our democracy is at stake.

(Sandy Parakilas, ex-operations manager at Facebook)

The internet is now owned and operated by private surveillance capital. The medium that once promised to amplify voice, connection, empowerment, and the democratization of information has taken a dark turn as surveillance capitalism hijacks the digital future setting it on a collision course with individual autonomy, equality, and the very possibility of a democratic society. It is important to note that surveillance capitalism has rooted and flourished during the last two decades by aggressively moving into blank spaces where it could spread unimpeded by law, regulation, or any form of democratic oversight and constraint.

(Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism)

Nowadays Facebook has gained so much power that it puts freedom and democracy in danger. Its rules for what can be published amount to censorship of society as a whole, leading to political disputes. But those disputes are a distraction from the bigger point that no company should have so much power.

(Richard Stallman)

Facebook’s algorithms have created division among individuals by showing them viral content that reinforces their ideological bias, rather than present them with a more nuanced portrait of reality.

By enabling the propagation of deceiving and polarizing content, Facebook played a key role in wearing down the conditions of a healthy democracy, where citizens’ ability to make informed decisions and exercise their critical judgment relies on the access to reliable, quality information.

By producing extreme asymmetries of knowledge, data capitalists claim the power to exert social influence on a massive scale, without knowledge from the users or the citizens.

Companies like Facebook operate mostly without adequate regulation and most importantly without any accountability or oversight, despite their determining role regarding economics, social life, and now politics.

By creating structural dependencies and by rendering users to its own conditions and experimentations, Facebook intrudes itself within the most intimate parts of individuals in order to better predict, then modify their actions, violating the sanctity of the individual and his fundamental right to an autonomous future.