Why do we assume that tech companies or government do — or even should — have all the answers?
In many ways, Facebook is a remarkable creation. It has more followers than Christianity. But when Mark Zuckerberg created the platform in his dorm room, there’s no way he would or could anticipate all of the implications, problems or issues that Facebook would eventually create. Nor should he. He’s a technologist, an inventor, a businessperson. He’s not omniscient.
And expecting any regulator — in this case Congress or the FTC or the FCC or anyone else — to be able to spot every issue and prevent every problem before it happens is equally unreasonable. They’re really not omniscient.
So what do we so? We could say that no new technology can be used until we understand every conceivable outcome and implication. But that would be patently the stupid.
Or, we could recognize that every new platform, every new technology is likely both a blessing and a curse. The goal shouldn’t be to embrace it without question or shun it without reservation. It’s to recognize what we do know, what we don’t know and have government and regulators work together, cooperatively, to figure it out. Facebook trying to evade regulations and accusations at all turns was unreasonable. And expectations by the government that Facebook would know how to anticipate and preempt every way any bad actor could use the platform is equally unreasonable.
Both sides need to stop pretending they can figure it all out by themselves. And they need to start working together. The alternative is unreasonable for the rest of us.