COMMENTARY
Mind the Gap
by

Zuckerberg’s dystopian vision of the Silicon Valley echo chamber

The Facebook founder’s manifesto to address fake news doesn’t get to the root of the problem: the two Americas that are tearing at each other

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 February, 2017, 6:39pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 February, 2017, 10:23pm

Facebook is confronting the reality that it’s a media company.

Mark Zuckerberg recently released a 5,700 word globalist political manifesto that is utter nonsense - a series of political platitudes trying to be soaring rhetoric. Zuckerberg has not lived in the real world for a long time.

“History is the story of how we’ve learned to come together in even greater numbers - from tribes to cities to nations,” he wrote.

This is the world according to Facebook. The history of the world is the story of endless class struggle where wars are the only events that permanently change anything.

But, it encapsulates Zuckerberg’s limited thinking - that Facebook is a business that can change the direction of human civilization. And that is his shortcoming.

Facebook has grown beyond a dorm room project ranking the attractiveness of Harvard girls to becoming the custodian of truth and goodwill among people. He now wants Facebook to be the means to realise the dream of globally inclusive communities. But, on whose terms?

This is exceedingly worrying, but entirely predictable. Facebook has always planned to socially and politically engineer as many Facebook users as possible.

What it considers to be fake news or acceptable posts will be slowly programmed into blocking alternative, non-establishment sources of news and views. This will only reinforce views within the elitist echo chamber of Silicon Valley.

Zuckerberg is a fabulously wealthy capitalist. He dislikes scrutiny or voting rights by shareholders. He talks liberal, but guards his money and his interests with an army of lawyers. It’s always baffling how the media paints him as a worldly and benign tech guru.

He channels a narrative of inclusiveness and openness. But he is unconvincing when explaining why Facebook makes dubious decisions about what content it selects. The only real way Facebook can be “people first” is if Zuckerberg gives away Facebook to its users.

Otherwise, he should stop trying to occupy the moral high ground of globalism. After all, the website started because he wanted to rank the attractiveness of Harvard’s girls.

Business people who enter the political arena need to examine themselves and their creations not from the narrow view of their fans or shareholders, but from the position of who or what they threaten -- and how that can be changed.

Facebook, Zuckerberg and the rest of the Silicon Valley companies are part of the reason why the Democrats have lost much political ground and credibility with the American working class.

Tech moguls love to show how progressive they are and how they are so anti-Trump. But it ‘s only lots of propaganda with little action by their companies on issues such as their own workers’ rights and antitrust issues.

Trump did not create the deep divisions in America; the Great Divide created him.

Zuckerberg needs to realize there are two different Americas. Half of the country that voted for Trump, that visited polling stations with wild hope, that roared at massive rallies, was not so much voting for Trump as against The Other America.

And this was their first chance to overturn the system. These two Americas have little in common with each other.

They don’t even belong on the same map together. The chasm is far deeper than just politics. It embraces culture and morals. They are completely distinct and incompatible.

Zuckerberg’s manifesto doesn’t address this. Instead it’s a blueprint for making Facebook even more intrusive than it has already become.

It’s a terrifying dystopian vision.

Peter Guy is a financial writer and former international banker

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