It’s been 17 years since Facebook was founded, and its business model, though evolving as the modest startup grew into a global juggernaut, has essentially been the same: collect user data, and then find a way to monetize it, whether or not those users are fully aware of what’s going on with their personal information behind the scenes.
Many years had passed before sporadic attempts to question, contain and correct this behavior started to appear in various jurisdictions – often for reasons far removed from genuine concern for people’s online privacy and security – and now the European Union might be jumping on that bandwagon.
Of all the things Facebook has done and keeps doing, it was a recent leak – that has gained disproportionate attention from mainstream media and those in power in various countries, compared to other, differently ideologically colored leaks of the past – is what is causing two members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to call for the bloc to investigate Facebook’s “business model.”
But what the two MEPs – Digital Services Act’s rapporteur, Denmark’s Christel Schaldemose, and Alexandra Geese of Germany – want is not to probe why Facebook collects and retains personal data, sells or shares it to third parties for massive profit, or its digital ad market duopoly with Google.
Instead, they think the giant’s business model is based on favoring “disinformation and violence over factual content” – and want this point investigated, but above all, regulated.
The MEPs said in a statement that they “keep in touch” with Haugen – who is behind the recent “celebrity white listing” leaks reported about by the Wall Street Journal and is the sole of the many Facebook whistleblowers to be interviewed on programs like 60 Minutes and be given a chance to testify before US Senate.
The focus of the MEPs statement is that currently, tech giants “regulate themselves” and that this state of affairs must not be allowed to continue – lest teenage girls develop anxiety and body image issues because celebrities whitelisted by Facebook and its Instagram platform are allowed to post content ordinary users aren’t.
The two MEPs hope to incorporate responses to the complaints from their statement into the EU’s upcoming Digital Services Act (DSA).