I’m sure there must be an easy answer to the following question that occurs to this pre-millennial.
In Mark Zuckerberg’s recent appearance before a congressional committee, Rep. David McKinley, a West Virginia Republican, pointed to Facebook ads offering opioids for sale without a prescription and addressed Zuckerberg accusingly: “Facebook is actually enabling an illegal activity, and in so doing you are hurting people.”
Zuckerberg has been falling all over himself recently apologizing for his company’s failure to prevent such malfeasance as the use made of data gleaned from Facebook to influence the recent election. The apologizing may be all PR, but it does raise the question of responsibility for various uses made of a technology.
My question is: how is Facebook (or other social media) different from such technologies as, say, the telephone or electricity which have helped enable virtually every terrible thing you can think of since they came into use, such as the horrors wrought by the Nazis.
If Zuckerberg is being held accountable for the harm done by what many would consider abuses of his technology, why not such perpetrators as Edison or Bell (or that clever caveperson who thought up fire, the misuse of which, accidental and purposeful, has caused so much pain and suffering)?
Electricity and the telephone, etc., have long been accepted as basic to any version of civilization. And we don’t blame the technology or its developer for the unfortunate uses. So what’s different about Facebook? Or the world in which it operates?