Facebook is an “idealistic and optimistic company,” but it has made big mistakes in the data breach of 87 million Americans created by Cambridge Analytica. On Tuesday, its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took responsibility and, ahead of his first day of testimony before US Congress (he testifies again Wednesday), wrote on his personal Facebook page, “I will do everything I can to make Facebook a place where everyone can stay closer with the people they care about, and to make sure it’s a positive force in the world.”
Amid the tangle of counterculture, yuppie aggressiveness, and holistic and managerial philosophies called “Californian ideology,” the praiseworthy intention to do good in the world can easily become the opposite: creating a platform for cynical (electoral) plots and passions that are hardly idealistic or positive, lurking on the dark side of the web.
Zuckerberg waded into this ambivalence Tuesday, recalling again Facebook’s role in amplifying movements such as #MeToo and #MarchForOurLives, to say nothing of its part (alongside Twitter) in Occupy Wall Street or the “Arab Springs.” Facebook helped raise $20 million after Hurricane Harvey, and 70 million small businesses use the platform to create jobs. Weighing the other side of the scale are the fake news that helped put Trump in the White House, the foreign interference and hate speech, and the sale of users’ personal information to companies and developers.