Facebook is the new cigarettes

By Michael K. Spencer

Facebook is the new cigarettes, Instagram is the new digital dopamine, advertising is killing the internet.

Recently Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff compared using Facebook to a deadly cigarette addiction in a wide-ranging interview with journalist Kara Swisher. I like this metaphor for any number of reasons. It’s been harmful to society, it’s let foreign hackers infiltrate and damage our institution of democracy.

The addictive nature of apps and technology addiction has also been painful to the brains and lives of its users. Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram — addiction in an unhealthy degree. Even young people are having less sex in a mobile world.

Silicon Valley hasn’t taken responsibility at all for its black hat practices, and Facebook is the perfect example of a tech monopoly that needs to be broken up. Tell me there is rally about breaking up Facebook, I will attend (and I’ve never attended a rally in my life).

Marc Benioff cares about different things to Mark Zuckerberg. I believe he’s really interested in making the world better, just like I think Elon Musk is, in a slightly less grounded way.

There’s such a lack of executives in Silicon Valley that you feel actually care. Marc Benioff just doubled down on comparing Facebook to cigarettes, saying people urgently need protecting from the social network. Russian trolls reached millions of Americans even at the Midterms via Instagram. Instagram is becoming the new political spectrum of broken platforms infiltrated by foreign agents.

Facebook is years to never about to solve these issues, because fundamentally it’s flawed to have any global platform with that many users. It’s a centralized system that’s actually very dangerous to the future of human rights. It’s Black Mirror 101. It also shows the abusive system of algorithms that aren’t design to serve people, but serve advertising revenue and corporate profits. Advertising is the wrong hub to have as the central revenue generating agent in a tech company. Facebook and Google will suffer the consequences!

Unfortunately for us, Facebook is actually much more dangerous to civil liberty, human attention and the protection of our national security, institutions such as democracy and the media and so forth than the actual risk of nicotine.

You know, it’s addictive. It’s not good for you. There’s people trying to get you to use it that even you don’t understand what’s going on. The government needs to step in. The government needs to really regulate what’s happening,” Benioff said.

While Benioff was not specific about how the government should regulate tech, but praised senators like Mark Warner for scrutinizing the industry. If only more Silicon Valley leaders had the courage to say the right thing, the things we are all thinking.

This in a year of 2018, when Facebook has made a mockery of its users, with data harvesting, hacking, and rampant exploitation of our privacy without being able to regulate their own algorithms, protect us from fake news or hate speech.

You can watch the interview here. What do you think about Facebook being broken up to maintain higher ethical standards to protect consumers and society where anti-trust law violations have occurred?