In the face of criticism and scandals, Facebook responds by changing its name and launching plans for a “metaverse”. Hands up anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to give Facebook even more power over our lives.
Facebook has been riddled with scandals recently. Several whistleblowers have come forward and spoken about how the company, in pursuit of growth and profit, promotes harmful content and disregards its own research which shows how using its services leads to mental health and body issues in young girls.
This comes on top of all the other criticism about how the company handles consumer rights and privacy – and how the company has monopolized important parts of our lives.
Unfortunately, there is little evidence to suggest that the company takes the criticism seriously.
And when Facebook launched its own ‘metaverse’, this appeared more like a dystopia than a digital future we want to be a part of.
Who wants a virtual and augmented reality where Facebook sets the rules of the game and becomes even more intimately familiar? Where even more in-depth information is likely to be collected about the users, and where Facebook has even greater control over which services we can use and how these operate?
We wish that Facebook concentrated more on fixing the problems already riddling its platforms rather than building a dystopian future curated by its already problematic algorithms. Unfortunately, there is little to suggest that this will happen. This is why the EU legislators have a great responsibility to get right the Digital Services and the Digital Market Acts, and rein in the technology giants to protect us from digital surveillance and business models that enable discrimination, manipulation and disinformation.
We now have a golden opportunity to strengthen democratic control over the tech giants through increased transparency and oversight.
While Facebook is hiding behind rebranding and megalomanic visions of the future, we need to put our trust in policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic. If not, we’ll end up in a universe where Facebook sets all the rules – and nothing suggests that this would be a good idea.