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The Real Social Dilemma

I recently watched the Social Dilemma. I don’t have much to say on that. Not to say it was bad, quite the opposite. Not only was it good, but it was completely correct. Go watch it.

No, today I’m discussing a different situation. Facebook playing chicken with the EU. The story, in its most succinct and simplified form: Facebook makes money by gathering data. Your data. The EU created laws to protect the data of its citizens. Remember GDPR? Unsurprisingly, tech giants seem quick to disregard these, and other laws. Facebook are disregarding this law with their transfer of EU-citizen’s data to their US locations. The EU have pointed this out and said “stop”. In return, Facebook are threatening to pull both their core platform and Instagram from the EU.

It’s one thing that the Social Dilemma never really struck on. US Corporate arrogance. Facebook, as an entity, feels so entitled to do as they wish, that when opposed they resort to childish petulance. “I’m taking my football and going home!” We all knew a kid like that growing up. Only now the kid is a billion dollar tech giant for whom laws are seen as suggestions that they’re rich enough to ignore.

As an EU citizen, I’d like to respond to Facebook’s threat to stop service in the EU:

Do it.

Theirs is an empty threat. Designed to illicit an emotional response in the 400 million or more people using either Facebook or Instagram inside Europe on a daily basis. They’re trying to force these people into an uproar, to force the EU’s hand. Because they have no other leverage.

Or to describe it differently: If you’ve watched the Social Dilemma (or watched Zuckerberg’s infamous “we sell ads” comment before the US congress. Or just thought about Facebook’s business model for 5 minutes) you know that you, as the user, are the product. They’re selling your data to advertisers, so they can offer more relevant products. Lovely. Why does this matter?

Because of the 400 million people we discussed earlier. The EU comprises a pretty large portion of Facebook’s userbase, and therefore profits. 24% according to some sources, though I’d love to see some actual data. Do you think Facebook will give up a quarter of their profits?

No. They’ll bitch, they’ll whine, and then they’ll bend over and take it up the ass. Build datacenters in the EU. Process data here. Because that will cost far less than losing the EU market.

So if you feel like being outraged, do it in the correct direction. Towards Facebook. They’re already using you to make billions. Don’t let them turn you into a weapon against the EU’s privacy laws as well.

Or better yet: Delete Facebook/Instagram. They’re bad for you.