Important Questions Raised During Facebook Hearings

Should the internet be an open, unregulated environment? Or is it government’s responsibility to step in to create restrictions for technology companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple? These questions have been debated around the world. Countries like China heavily regulate the internet and even countries in Europe have developed stringent data collection regulations for technology companies. But, in America, this conversation hasn’t reached center stage until this week. For the past few days, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has been testifying in front of Congress to answer questions about the recent data breach involving Cambridge Analytica. This congressional hearing has been fascinating as its sparked a conversation that has been simmering on the back burners for years:

To what extent should the United States government regulate the internet?

During this hearing some tough questions were asked by congressmen and senators such as:

  • Should technology companies be able to read private messages online?
  • Should the government create guidelines for how technology companies gather and use people’s personal data?
  • How do we control or regulate hate speech online?
  • How much censorship should take place regarding speech on the internet? How do we stop online bullying without limiting the first amendment?

These are just some of the many complex questions that came up during the Facebook hearings. So, what are the answers to these questions? For most of these questions, there aren't clear cut answers. Government officials, technology executives, and every day citizens need to mull over these questions, debate the pros and cons, and ultimately decide what kind of world we want to live in. Do we prioritize our individual freedoms of speech and expression or are we more concerned with stopping pervasive online bullying? Are we getting to a point as a people where we are okay with big companies having access to all of our private data? Or should the government step in and create restrictions similar to European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation? These conversations are just beginning and I don’t see them ending any time soon. With new technology platforms popping up each day and new innovations, like artificial intelligence, changing our very way of life, we will continue to grapple with questions about regulating technology. Mark Zuckerberg may be a genius, but even he can’t provide answers to these questions. We, as a collective society, will have to come up with answers.

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