Rethinking America

Your Guide to the Facebook Innocence Shuffle in 15 Steps

With its deep pockets and shameless leadership, Facebook has perfected the art of wiggling out of tricky situations.

Takeaways


  • Whenever Facebook gets caught in another failure and is faced with pesky questions, its lobbyists and image polishers employ a time-tested ritual – play innocent.
  • With its deep pockets, Facebook can hire plenty of public policy "talent." One recent example is Nick Clegg, the UK’s former Deputy Prime Minister.
  • For Facebook to argue that the entire progress of humanity hangs on it being able to operate largely unimpeded by authorities is a self-regulation pipe dream.

Whenever it gets caught in another failure and is faced with pesky questions, Facebook’s high-paid lobbyists and image polishers, led by Sheryl Sandberg with an iron hand, the company employs a time-tested ritual.

Call it the 15-step shuffle. It goes as follows:

1. We didn’t.
2. We can’t recall.
3. Oops.
4. We didn’t mean to.
5. It will happen never again.
6. It did?
7. We apologize for the loose cannon.
8. It happened again?
9. Can’t believe that.
10. Let me check.
11. Damn, the public didn’t forget?
12. OK, we just found out it did happen again.
13. But it was really in another area.
14. We are continuing to refine our internal policies to avoid any recurrence.
15. We will keep hiring more staff to ensure that we will maintain our sterling reputation.

Playing the long game

Facebook has played this game for a very long time. After all, it is just oozing with money from its relentless data mining. Given the lack of serious domestic opposition in the United States, it has little to no reason to change its attitudes.

Furthermore, with its deep pockets, it can hire plenty of public policy “talent.” One recent example of this political “whoring” is Nick Clegg, the UK’s former Deputy Prime Minister (under David Cameron). If he had any ounce of decency left in his body, he would surely resign. Just don’t expect him to – the money is too good to pass up.

This hiring policy can also have the effect that the critical mass is simply bought off, even pre-emptively, all in hope of garnering one of those “prestigious” (read: terrifically compensated) jobs at Facebook.

Whether it is simply the arrogance of power and/or it comes with the turf of being the biggest data mining players of our time is not easy to discern.

Driving progress?

For Facebook to argue that the entire progress of humanity hangs on it being able to operate largely unimpeded by authorities tries to preserve a libertarian self-regulation pipe dream.

The entire world has come to experience the great public cost of that regulatory looseness. It also certainly served financial industry insiders extremely well, while greatly harming the public.

In the early 2000s, we were told that U.S. finance was God’s own gift to humanity and that nobody should stand in the way of these geniuses. Now, the Game of Thrones repeats itself via the Übermenschen of Silicon Valley.

If we should have learned one lesson from the 2008 global financial crisis, it is this: Better stand in the way of presumed American “genius,” especially as it is mainly intent on lining its own pockets.

Next: Trust-busting?

Not all hope is lost. Under Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting leadership, U.S. authorities in the very early 1900s began to get serious about breaking up the extreme abuses of market power exhibited by the overpowering monopolists and oligopolists of that era.

A century onward, the same task lies ahead.

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About Stephan Richter

Stephan Richter is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Globalist. [Berlin/Germany]

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