Democrats Unlikely To Regulate Facebook: Ex-White House Official

The newly sworn-in Democratic House of Representatives is unlikely to regulate Facebook, according to ex-White House official Jon Lovett. While co-hosting a recent episode of tech podcast Pivot, President Obama's former speechwriter  who also worked for Hillary Clinton during her Senate career claimed that while the world's largest social media company certainly made many missteps in recent times, the Democratic party's voter base simply doesn't care enough about those issues for the political left in the country to mount an organized push against them.

Facebook is a lot of things but healthcare reform isn't one of them

Plans meant to curb climate change and revamp the existing healthcare system in the United States are policies that voter base truly cares about enough to go out and vote, which is precisely what the Democratic House is likely to focus on moving forward, Mr. Lovett argued. That isn't to say the incumbent DNC members aren't interested in cracking down on the Menlo Park, California-based firm as many would presumably like to see it regulated in private, according to the 36-year-old. However, without a concentrated push for such a move from the Democratic party's voter base which currently seems anything but likely, the House will simply ignore the matter at hand, being unwilling to commit resources to something that doesn't have a massive potential to stay in the voters' memories for many years, Mr. Lovett concluded

A fight for the ages: reining in big tech

Facebook is far from the only technology company in the country that has recently been receiving a lot of heat for its actions, whether regarding user privacy, security, censorship, monetization policies, or some combination of those factors. Mr. Lovett and Ms. Swisher's recent dialogue also touched upon the subject of Netflix and its decision to pull a Patriot Act episode centered on murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi from Saudi Arabia. While the former White House official acknowledged Netflix already has no shortage of negative PR stemming from that decision, he described that particular incident as not a particularly problematic affair in the grand scheme of things. According to him, a much bigger issue is that companies like Disney are now self-censoring their content such as movies even before they're submitted for reviews meant to assign them age ratings, picking what does and doesn't go into their creations based on what they expect Chinese censors will think about it so as to maximize their chances of having a smooth launch in the Far Eastern country, one of the largest markets on the planet based on virtually every relevant factor.

We're all in this together

Ultimately, despite being critical of the tech industry and the manner in which it conducted business in recent times, Mr. Lovett doesn't believe any particular American actor in the segment is malicious and some degree of healthy dialogue needs to be established before larger problems are tackled. That sentiment is actually rather similar to what Facebook executives have been saying in recent times, acknowledging most of the company's missteps and agreeing they need to do better moving forward.

The issue is what "doing better" actually means in this context, especially in terms of user privacy, seeing how the general public and even the industry itself is currently often confusing cybersecurity with privacy, not to mention the fact that data leaks enabled by software bugs and human error are something that's virtually unavoidable when it comes to platforms as massive as Facebook. Last year's Cambridge Analytica scandal dealt a massive blow to the company's public image, something it heavily relies on in order to successfully execute its business strategy based on technically free services and highly targeted advertising.

Capitol Hill recently demonstrated some level of ambition to rein in big tech from the standpoint of data privacy, particularly in the sense that it enacts legislation resembling the General Data Protection Regulation that went into effect in the European Union in mid-2018. Even the tech industry is largely supportive of the effort because the alternative is leaving states to come up with their own regulatory frameworks and create a chaotic environment for running an Internet business in the country. That trend already appears to be starting seeing how California enacted a strict privacy law last year and more states signaled they're eager to follow suit.