Comedian, actor, and director Sacha Baron Cohen tweeted last week about Facebook and the inescapable reality that, effectively, one man (CEO Mark Zuckerberg) has an inordinate amount of influence and control over what 2.5 billion people worldwide get to see and talk about.
“We don’t let 1 person control the water for 2.5 billion people. We don’t let 1 person control electricity for 2.5 billion people,” Cohen tweeted. “Why do we let 1 man control the information seen by 2.5 billion people? Facebook needs to be regulated by governments, not ruled by an emperor!”
Tech titan and billionaire Elon Musk tweeted in response: “#DeleteFacebook It’s lame.” Ignoring the irony of using one social media platform to criticize another social media platform, this has stirred up fresh discussion about the role and impact of social media.
There are some for whom the internet has been a wonderful thing by providing a platform to meet people, have their opinions heard, and in some cases, even land their dream job. Puppeteer YouTuber Barnaby Dixon, for example, landed a role working on the Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance thanks to his fantastic short videos.
The concerns about how much of the population is tied to only a handful of platforms controlled by a minority of people - often in Silicon Valley - are valid. Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s multiple platforms, as well as others, all seem to have a near-total monopoly on where people spend their time online. This controls what a typical Internet user says and reads.
To some, it feels inevitable that calls to regulate or split up the big platforms will only grow louder and louder. But, as with all such things, only time will tell.