Kin Lane

Critical Of Facebook? Let's Apply This Thinking To All Tech Before it Gets Too Big

I'm seeing a lot of critical thinking being focused on Facebook, and even Twitter after this election. I will be joining in the effort to understand how social media was leveraged for both good and evil this election with my friend Mike Caulfield. This type of work is a natural extension of my existing work to understand the technology, business, and politics of APIs, but is something that just had the volume turned up on significantly. 

It makes me happy to see everyone question the role Facebook has played in the election, and how misinformation sites are leveraging the Facebook API to broadcast their work and manipulate users and their networks. While some of these people have intentions to manipulate things for left-wing or right-wing interests, many are just doing so for profit and could care less the damage they inflict. Mark Zuckerberg has denied the impact his company has had on the election, but this is something that cannot be reconciled with the platform promise being made to its advertisers, and content publishers.

As I prepare to dive in and support this work I wanted to remind folks that this is not exclusive to Facebook and Twitter, or just during this election. We suck at understanding history or considering the future when we adopt new technologies -- this is often intentional. We need to make sure we are this critical when any new technology comes along, and work hard to understand the historical motives and ideology behind the tech, as well as get better at exploring possible dystopian futures brought on by each technological tool we are unleashing in our personal and professional worlds.

Let's please keep track of the questions we are asking about Facebook right now, and make sure we apply those same questions to every other piece of technology in our lives.