It’s some achievement to get me sympathising with Mark Zuckerberg. But denunciations from a powerful combination of a parliamentary committee in the UK and self-appointed watchdogs of the new media like the Guardian almost managed it.
The digital, culture, media and sport select committee finally published a damning report into Facebook after an 18-month investigation, as reported today by the Guardian.
The solutions demanded by the committee, however, are intended not to make Facebook and new media more accountable, as the report claims, but to reassert the dominance of the British state in surveilling the public and revive the declining fortunes of the more trusted old media corporations, the Guardian very much included.
And lurking behind it all is the terror of the political-media class at the spread of a new kind of political insurgency – a rejection of the current status quo for war and neoliberal pillage – given voice on new media platforms that is readily dismissed, by both the committee and the Guardian, as “fake news”.
What is really at issue becomes clear the moment one starts to unpick the report. It intentionally conflates three entirely different problems, muddling them together to win support for all three.
The aim is to hammer Facebook into submission, not for our benefit – as is desperately needed – but so that the state and media establishment can “take back control”.
Let’s look at the report’s conclusions.