Jaron Lanier, author of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, speaks on recent controversies at Facebook and Donald Trump’s use of social media.
(Washington, DC – 15th November) - In an interview with Al Jazeera English’s UpFront, Jaron Lanier, a Silicon Valley pioneer and public intellectual, responded to a bombshell New York Times investigation into Facebook by calling for its CEO Mark Zuckerberg to step down.
“I think it would be good for the world if [Zuckerberg] stepped aside,” Lanier told UpFront host Mehdi Hasan. “But the point is that there’s no mechanism for him to do so”.
“That [Facebook] is a one man shop is really, really not Okay,” Lanier added. “It’s not OK for the world. It’s not even in the spirit of capitalism. I think it’s really anti-market, anti-democratic”.
The New York Times report on Facebook alleges that the company knew about Russian meddling during the election cycle, failed to penalize Donald Trump’s Islamophobic content, and tried to undermine critics with allegations of anti-Semitism, among other things. Facebook disputes some of these claims and says it has addressed some of the concerns.
“I’m not entirely surprised by the report, although some of the details are surprising and shocking,” said Lanier. “From Zuckerberg’s point of view, he is always in what he perceives as a life or death struggle. Either Facebook controls the world, or it dies. He doesn’t perceive any kind of in between outcome…”.
During the interview, Lanier was also asked to comment on whether he believes Russian interference in the 2016 US elections using Facebook had an impact on votes.
“I would say there’s enough strong evidence, and enough consensus of enough people, with enough different, well-intentioned and well-informed, perspectives that we should finally just say what the American intelligence establishment have said; and what many others have said, is that yes, yes, Facebook did change the outcome of the American election,” he stated.
Lanier was also asked if Donald Trump would be President without the aid of Twitter: “I think Trump would be president without Twitter, but I don’t think Trump would be President without Facebook,” he said.
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