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The Internet seems to have gone mad over comments by Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook. Zuckerberg on Wednesday came out against the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation and in a Facebook status message wrote:
The internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world. We can’t let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet’s development. Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet. The world today needs political leaders who are pro-internet. We have been working with many of these folks for months on better alternatives to these current proposals. I encourage you to learn more about these issues and tell your congressmen that you want them to be pro-internet.
Facebook also outlined its official stance on SOPA and PIPA.
I applaud Zuckerberg for finally taking a stand on this important issue. However, forgive me for thinking that Zuckerberg and Facebook are doing what is politically ‘correct.’ Today, it took till about 10 am Pacific Time — long after the anti-SOPA “blackout” had spread widely across the web. Even Google (s GOOG) (a company that tends to talk out of both sides of its mouth on policy issues) came out with a strong statement against SOPA and PIPA and carried the protest “black” banner on its homepage.
The late reaction — as well meaning as it seems to be — makes me wonder if this was something that was an expedient, low-risk public relations move. I know people are going to call me a Facebook hater, but I do have a reason to question why there was such a slow reaction. As one of the Internet’s largest destinations, Facebook should have been talking about this issue long before today. SOPA isn’t a recent problem, and a threat of a boycott from Facebook would have made politicians pay attention a lot sooner.
What makes up social companies like Facebook and Twitter is we the people — not the software, the hardware and the data centers they own. It is not the money but the people who make a place vibrant, exciting and livable.
In an ideal world, Facebook should reflect our world. Unfortunately, it does not. In the past the company has made questionable decisions about user privacy and other similar issues. Now the company is proposing its suggestions. I disagree with that approach — Facebook’s suggestions should be the suggestions of its users. Here is what I wrote as a comment in response to Zuckerberg’s status message.
..it be great if you/Facebook actually shared and had a conversation about your suggestions and proposals to the legislators mostly because I believe since this impacts individuals – they need to be part of the process.
Much as I would like to believe Facebook, the company’s stance has been less than stellar when it comes to things like privacy and rights of the citizens. What I would love for Facebook to do is have a town hall.
So if Facebook and Zuckerberg really mean it — if they really want to come out with a real statement against SOPA — it is time for them to stand-up and show it. Involve the people — not the politicians, not the big companies, and definitely not the lobbyists — and have them weigh in on the future of our Internet.