As the Los Angeles Times reports, Facebook’s news feed is the platform’s nerve center. Mark Zuckerberg had gambled on the boundaries of privacy and won. It proved how much easier it was to release something new and deal with the consequences later — an ethos enshrined in the company’s original mantra, “Move fast and break things.”
It was a strategy that worked for years to come. Facebook pushed its users to share more personal information, providing the lifeblood for the company’s dramatic growth and riches. There was occasional pushback, such as lawsuits against Facebook for tracking users on other sites and spoiling one man’s engagement surprise by revealing to his fiance he had bought a ring. But even a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011 couldn’t stop the company from encroaching further into people’s private lives.
Then last week, Facebook discovered that the world it was irrevocably changing may have changed its mind about the social network — and possibly the tech industry at large, too.
For the first time, public officials, lawmakers and even late-night talk show hosts applied sustained pressure on Facebook to explain how data about millions of unsuspecting users allegedly wound up in the hands of a political consulting firm with ties to the Trump campaign.
The crisis compelled Zuckerberg to emerge from five days of silence to embark on an unprecedented media blitz Wednesday to apologize and promise changes. On Thursday, Zuckerberg was asked by the leaders of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee to testify.
The social media giant, which has thus far averted any major regulation, is now the subject of investigations by the FTC and the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts. Senators are calling for hearings, setting up the possibility that Facebook and the tech industry could face tough new laws — especially if the midterm elections result in the Republicans losing their majorities in Congress.
All of the sudden, the Democrats are mad at their super-rich Silicon Valley pals. Had they helped Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election everything would be fine now.