We all know that Mark Zuckerberg is a self-made multi-billionaire tech-entrepreneur but I am not sure that we really understand what that means to the rest of us. Because Mark owns and operates Facebook, he owns and operates the platform that serves as the primary source of news information for American citizens. To quote Joe Biden, that’s a big f*cking deal. We have never seen anything quite like this. When out-sized influence was concentrated in just a few newspaper publishers back in the day, half the country could not even read. So Facebook is directing traffic in the American mind and penetrating the American consciousness in a way that can only be analogized to a religion.
By comparison, the reviled billionaire Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson can only dream of being as influential as this young man is and he is young enough to be their grandson. Even in their fondest dreams they couldn’t even come close to the impact and influence that Zuckerberg has.
For years we’ve been so busy celebrating the awkward-quirky-genius mythology captured by the big Hollywood movie that we’ve been painfully slow in recognizing who this young man really is and what he represents. Mark Zuckerberg has become the golden child of the American Oligarchy. And because we are already conditioned to worship wealth and to romanticize those who acquire it, that ain’t a good thing. The benevolent Warren Buffett he is not. The altruistic Bill Gates, he is not. This young man has embraced a philosophy of “move fast and break things” that we seem not to have noticed gives a giant middle finger to anybody who gets cut by the sharp edges of the broken things he leaves behind. Keep in mind that Zuckerberg’s world changing idea started out as a crude website for frustrated misogynistic nerds to publicly rate the looks of college girls walking around campus- the same girls who never bothered to stop and talk to him. So he started off harnessing the power to objectify and marginalize girls who didn’t treat him the way he wanted to be treated. So what happens when politicians don’t treat hi the way he wants to be treated? As it stands right now, whatever Zuckerberg wants to happen is what happens because the multi-billion dollar industry of social media and it’s empire businesses are free to make their own rules and police themselves without oversight or accountability to anyone but themselves. And that is exactly how Zuckerberg likes it and he will do what he has to do to keep it that way.
Recognizing that undeniable reality, how long before Facebook starts to work to help Republicans get into office since they have built their entire political brand around hating all regulations? We already know that Facebook- unwittingly we are told- posted more than 80,000 ads on behalf of Russian trolls who were out to support Trump and sink HRC. Those ads were seen by a billion people. How will we know how well Facebook filters out these ads that mislead the public by distorting reality and fabricating narratives to sow chaos? Because they are unregulated, we won’t know- we have to depend on Mark Zuckerberg to tell us what he wants us to know.
The clearest sign that Facebook is playing an old-school carnie-hustle on the public when it comes to managing its content came last week when they were forced to ban the sick lunatic conspiracy-theorist and hate-monger Alex Jones. They were so afraid of offending conservatives (e.g. Republicans) that they reached into the dust-bin of history and pulled out Louis Farrakahn and banned him from Facebook. Louis friggin’ Farrakahn. The comparison is laughable. I’ll bet you you my paycheck, my car and my house that 99.9% of people on Facebook did not even know Farrakahh was even on the platform. This man has not been relevant in almost twenty years while Alex Jones has millions of crazed followers of his InfoWars platform- among them the 45th President of the United States.
But the whiz-kids who run Facebook figured that if they threw this 80 something year old black man off their platform then it would balance the scales. So they are playing an image game that you can only miss if you are not looking. But we had better brace ourselves because as things heat up in our politics and pop culture around them, they may come out of the closet and support Republicans full on. I can assure you that Elizabeth Warren’s call for Facebook to be broken up has gotten their attention and attracted their ire. And because of the Treacherous 5 on the Supreme Court, Zuckerberg can put the full weight of his billions in play to make sure she doesn’t win the presidency.
It is important to remember that the Supreme Court under John Roberts did not just open the closet door for America’s oligarchs to emerge, they threw a banquet for them. In the Citizens United case, the SCOTUS established that money was the legal equivalent of political speech- allowing unlimited spending by PACs and Super PACS in every election from coast to coast. A wealthy person can now legally and secretly funnel millions of dollars into any race he chooses and have an outsized influence on the outcome. Who is better positioned to take full advantage of that political perversion than Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook?
So don’t let the black t-shirt, blue jeans or Silicon Valley swag fool you- this young man’s superficial liberalism will not trump his oligarch interests. Regardless of the industry they are in or the politics that they profess to hold, all billionaire businessmen have one thing in common: they do NOT want to be regulated by the government. Their arrogance makes them think that anybody working for the government is too stupid to regulate their business without destroying it. And of course, being told what they can do or how to do it is anathema to any man who has cracked the code of America’s free market and reached the rare status of being a billionaire. Even if it was that man’s great-grandfather who cracked the code for him and left all of those billions behind his regulations-reject-reflex is just as strong because he has been socialized to regard regulation as a plot to either take what is rightfully his or otherwise weaken his position. And as Fredrick Douglass once said, power concedes nothing without demand.