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What Happens on Facebook? - by Charlie Warzel - Galaxy Brain:

This weirdness is enough to make people (myself very much included) wonder if this content list isn’t just obfuscation from Facebook. As Gizmodo’s Shoshana Wodinsky notes, Facebook’s list, “paints a very different picture than the many, many reports from independent researchers and reporters who have found that hyper-partisan content garners the most clicks on Facebook.” It doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility that Facebook can slice the data —which only it can see! — in a particularly flattering manner to satisfy its transparency requirements. Most users will be satisfied, if they notice at all. Box, checked.

I’m of the firm opinion that surveillance capitalism companies like Facebook ought to be heavily regulated. I think the best means of doing so is to implement strict data sovereignty and ownership laws—meaning that individuals are the primary controllers of their information—that would make the platforms’ business model of harvesting and selling user data impossible.

Setting aside the legal and political issues (which would be significant, to say the least), though, a problem with this approach is how regulatory agencies would ensure compliance. These tech platforms are enormous and complex, so much so that the people that build and work on them don’t even understand everything that is happening. We’re not talking about food safety regulations, where the local health inspector can pay a surprise visit to a restaurant to check whether they are storing the raw meat properly.

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