Too bad the facts, as reported by the Journal, say otherwise. They say that Instagram, owned by Facebook, exacerbates eating disorders, depression and isolation in teenage girls, and the company knew this, but played it down. They say that drug cartels, human traffickers and ethnic cleansers use Facebook to conduct their dirty business and that the company knows this, but does little to stop it. They say Facebook is a superspreader of misinformation that helped enable the Jan. 6 insurrection and that the company resisted making changes to more effectively address the issue for fear of hurting the bottom line.
This is a trillion-dollar behemoth whose customer base is roughly 40 percent of the human race and it has consistently shirked the responsibility that comes with its power, refused to let what was right stand between it and the next dollar. So yes, one hopes lawmakers will impose consequences. But one is also realistic about how much good that can do.
For as long as we are predisposed to consider mass connectivity the key to a better world, there is ultimately no law that can provide fail-safe protection against the unsavory aspects of this medium. Like tobacco, Facebook is a dangerous product one uses at one’s own risk. It’s worth noting, however, that tobacco use in this country declined not just because it was regulated, but also because people became educated to its perils.
Maybe you can’t fix Facebook. But signing off is a breeze.