Some people say that Facebook’s latest scandal seems to be its big tobacco moment. This is also an important oil moment.

Senator Richard Blumenthal mentioned a familiar metaphor At the Facebook whistleblower hearing on Tuesday“Facebook and Big Tech are facing their big tobacco moment,” he said, and believes that the social network’s products “may be addictive and toxic to children.” The aforementioned whistleblower Frances Haugen (Frances Haugen) , Also known as Facebook’s decision was “disastrous” and stated that the company “chooses profit over safety.”

Do these phrases remind you of Big Tobacco? certainly. They also remind me of Big Petroleum.

In the best case, Facebook’s product is a resource that brings some benefits. (Connecting people online can Powerful stuff! ) The company also produces countless by-products, which can cause many undesirable effects. (help Destroy democracy not completely Mark Zuckerberg’s plan for world domination.) Facebook has nearly 3 billion users worldwide and will not disappear anytime soon.

The Big Tobacco metaphor is a good description of Facebook’s products as unhealthy. The only problem with comparing the two is that nowadays you can easily avoid smoking.But actually it’s quite difficult to spend a day on the Internet No need to interact with Facebook.

Enter the oil metaphor. Just like Facebook, there are benefits to fossil fuels. Oil and natural gas have historically provided us with a relatively cheap and seemingly sufficient supply of energy. This led to some cool inventions, such as the internal combustion engine and the cars it drives.But like Facebook, fossil fuels have many disadvantages-such as our dependence on them Destroying the earth -But it is almost impossible to imagine the world will function without them.

Most of us can’t just quit Facebook. The whole world cannot easily accept and transfer to a new platform.At this point, we are so dependent on Facebook products that we suddenly shut them down Can bring the entire economy to a standstillWe saw this on Monday, when a server configuration error caused Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to be disrupted for several hours. For many people in the United States, this may seem like an inconvenience. There are many other ways to communicate and conduct business online. But in the global south, some Facebook products, especially WhatsApp, have become indispensable services.

“Developing countries such as India, Mexico, and Brazil have begun to rely on these free messaging services,” said Callum Sillars, social media expert at Ampere Analysis. Tell the guardian this week. “In these countries, they are usually the backbone of communication. Small businesses and the informal economy are particularly dependent on Facebook’s services.”

It sounds a bit like our dependence on oil, right? For example, if we wake up next Monday and all the oil and gas on the planet are gone, it will be a mess.But it’s not that bad in the US, where renewable energy is used Has been rising rapidlyBecause it will In parts of Africa and the Middle East. Developing countries in these regions Rely heavily on Using fossil fuels to meet their daily energy needs, they No viable option immediately.

You can also extend this analogy. Facebook is like the oil industry because Both Play Played a huge role in geopolitics. Facebook, like oil, Make huge profits At the same time, it causes immeasurable harm to society. Like oil companies in the past, Facebook is accustomed to annexing smaller competitors to strengthen its control of the market. Comparing Facebook to Standard Oil is actually a very interesting thought experiment, especially when you look at the inverse relationship between public sentiment and government intervention in Standard Oil. Simply put, it was only after people’s perception of the standard oil monopoly plummeted in the early 1900s– Partial thanks to revealing reporter Ida Tarbell -The intervention of antitrust regulators broke the empire of John D. Rockefeller.

What will happen to Mark Zuckerberg’s empire when facing it? The latest crisis about its harm to society It’s not clear, but this time it feels more serious than the scandals in the past.In her witness Before the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Hoogen provided lawmakers with a blueprint for how to fix Facebook, and Senator Blumenthal Visit Zuckerberg Appeared before the committee and answered some questions-especially about recent revelations, such as how Facebook knew that Instagram was hurting girls, but did not take any action.If he shows up this month, Zuckerberg May even meet some executives in the petroleum industry Testified on climate disinformation before the House Oversight Committee.

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