As part of our continuing discussion over the ethics of Facebook’s emotional manipulation study, Philip Cohen advanced the idea that we should simply declare FB a public utility and regulate it as such:
But Facebook is too big, and they own irreplaceable archives of hundreds of millions of people’s stuff. I figure just nationalize it or regulate it as a public utility – call it critical infrastructure. Then let private companies out-innovate boring Facebook.gov if they want to and win people away.
This notion struck me as a bit extreme, but provocative in just the right way. What kind of a service is a massive social network and in whose interests should it be run? We need better answers to that question.