Ben Thompson has an excellent article this week about free speech, political ads, and Facebook. There’s a good debate to be had about the roll of curation and fact-checking ads, but on the problems of massive, ad-based social networks there can be no doubt:
In the long run, though, it is very problematic that such a powerful player in our democracy has no accountability. Liberty is not simply about laws, or culture, it is also about structure, and it is right to be concerned about the centralized nature of companies like Facebook.
Platforms that have as many problems as Facebook does can always be improved, but by design they can never be good enough because their size alone is one of the problems.
The good news: it’s up to us. We can choose to reject these platforms and move to a more distributed web of indie microblogs. We can choose to reject the attention power-grab of the algorithmic timeline. We can choose to build the web we deserve… but it’s not going to happen if you keep feeding photos into Instagram.