I’ve only been able to hear a sampling of the committee interviews with Zuckerburg but it seems to me that most of the dialog is totally missing a very large point by focusing only on personal data being collected and abused.
If you step back a bit you have to admit that the value add for most social network sites of any stripe – the free ones that is – lies in the extent to which they can provide you with content that is especially meaningful to you. That means people you want to connect with, topics you want to follow, products you would be interested in or even products you might like to buy.
To be able to do that the service has to collect information on you beyond just the basics. And it has to make that information or at least some level of targeted access available to people who will pay for it. Ideally there would be a virtual wall between your personal information and the folks who want to reach you, facilitated by the social media site. Of course such virtually walls are readily breached and hey, lots of folks already have your personal information including your credit history and all your shopping information by direct hacking of your credit bureau, bank, insurance company or retailer – that’s just reality.
Yet Zuckerburg’s Congressional interviews to date have almost totally focused on data theft, including his own.
They have not focused on Facebook – or others – as true media companies, companies which need to have a plan to either shield you from bad actors trying to get information to you (not from you) or at a minimum give you some insight into the type of information you are encountering (is it advertising, who is it coming from, was it vetted to any level, is it coming from somehow with a history of bad practices).
In the olden days there was a quaint idea that your media might differentiate fact from opinion, news from editorial and everything else from advertisements (we marketing types tried our best to sneak around that with advertorials and other more devious tactics of course). But generally the media accepted some responsibility (subliminal messages were removed from movies, a sad day for sales of candy and sodas).
So…has Congress completely missed the issue of information going out via Facebook and others…and the possible need to regulate that…or did I miss it in the few hours of testimony I heard. If it didn’t get better than that I begin to wonder what sort of staffers they have developing questions for them.