Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: Is the genie out of the bottle?
I spent two days watching and listening to Mark Zuckerberg being questioned by the House and the Senate. The video images show him seated with what seems to be a very large group of people. But it was an optical illusion of the camera lens.
One of the legislators said it would be good to hear from Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. That won't happen because Page rarely speaks in public due to a worsening speech disability.
Sergey Brin is co-founder and President but he's more interested in stratospheric ventures -- he's building a $100 million airship. He's likely not the best to ask about Google's consumer data policies.
Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO and Chairman is well known in D.C. but he unexpectedly quit the company earlier this year.
That leaves Sundar Pichai - the current CEO of Google who no one knows. Legislators live and die on their media visibility which is helped by the famous and notorious of which Pichai is neither.
I'd love to see Jack Dorsey from Twitter but there are few other Silicon Valley personalities of Zuckerberg's growing stature. Steve Cook from Apple for sure.
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Interestingly, in Zuckerberg's notes captured by a news photographer, there is a "Steve Cook" section that points out Apple's data gaffes and asks to hold Apple to the same standards as Facebook. But there was nothing said about Google and its consumer data collection policies and problems.
Facebook and Google have a cozy relationship and try to stay out of each other's way. They hold more than 85% of new ad deals.
They displaced mass media but rejected the responsibilities that mass media carried -- keeping society and democracy safe from toxic content and fake news. It could take five years for Facebook's AI to to be able to manage what traditional media has been able to achieve for decades.
"Let me first just set aside that my position isn't that there should be no regulation."
He publicly broke ranks with the Silicon Valley elite which promotes the drum-beat of self-regulation over any type of government oversight.
If Facebook has to take a hit on profits because of the thousands of new hires it needs to flag and delete content it will make sure others don't get away with not doing the same.
Zuckerberg will soon announce a new ad data initiative along with support for legislation that will address the way companies collect and use consumer data to make sure his competitors are on the same level playing field when it comes to carrying the burden of new regulations and the increased business costs for hiring tens of thousands of editors.
It will centralize even more advertising power for Facebook. Regulations are great because the government is now on your side.
Zuckerberg has an opportunity to use his personal visibility and his personal ownership of Facebook to potentially rewire the entire online advertising industry. He'll make it better for Facebook -- but the ad tech sector is set for a shakeup, imho.