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Social media

It’s not all Zuckerberg’s fault

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen in London this week. Paul Grover/Shutterstock

It’s easy to vilify Mark Zuckerberg in the current anti-Facebook frenzy. But I fear he’s becoming “a scapegoat for deeper problems with the internet itself”, says David Ignatius in The Washington Post. What the whistleblowers have revealed about the social media giant – its accommodation of dictators, drug cartels and human traffickers – is outrageous. But before lawmakers around the world act, consider the adage: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” After the political upheavals of the past decade, we wanted “a villain to blame”. For Trumpism, we initially made Russia the bogeyman before turning our guns on Facebook. But the “veins of rage” were there well before Trump – the old media gatekeepers just kept them in check.

Like the internet, social media was meant to be an “open ecosystem” where different ideas and opinions could flourish. Instead people just found their niches and “created closed loops for themselves” – which became perfect breeding grounds for misinformation, hatred and much else besides. There are many potential solutions to this, including “limiting retweets and shares”. But none is perfect. The “awkward truth” is that, Zuckerberg or no Zuckerberg, “we’ll get the internet we deserve”.