A Tool

Facebook’s management is beginning to realize the impact Facebook can have on our national society and on the politics of our society.  Product Manager Samidh Chakrabarti:

If there’s one fundamental truth about social media’s impact on democracy it’s that it amplifies human intent—both good and bad[.]

But in their hubris that same management is presuming to dictate to us how we will be allowed to use it.

[W]e have a moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil, and trustworthy as possible.

No.  Facebook technology is like any other tool, neither good nor bad in itself, but useful or destructive in from the way it’s used.  Like any large power tool, it certainly can be dangerous—but it’s on us to use it correctly and safely.

It’s certainly not on producers of technology, including of tools like Facebook (or Twitter, come to that, or Instragram, or Snapchat, or…), to take it on themselves to censor what they provide or omit.  That’s the responsibility of us as individuals.  Facebook’s management team has a responsibility to publish a serious, honest owner’s manual—just like Black & Decker has a responsibility to publish a serious, honest owner’s manual for its chainsaws.  But Black & Decker only has a responsibility vis-à-vis its saws to make them effective and safe.  Facebook management has the same responsibility—neither more nor less—to do the same with the tool known as Facebook.

It’s time they stopped condescending.  It’s time they stopped presuming to manage our outcomes for us.

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