The real power of Facebook

Washington Edited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Feb 20, 2021, 10:04 AM IST

Facebook is facing $3.2 billion class-action lawsuit in UK Photograph:(Reuters)

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Facebook has driven revolutions but it has also fuelled anarchy, unrest and election fraud. And each time, it has gotten away with it

Facebook began 16 years ago from a dorm-room at Harvard to connect college students. It has evolved into the biggest social media network in the world.  

Facebook has driven revolutions but it has also fuelled anarchy, unrest and election fraud. And each time, it has gotten away with it.  

Let’s explore the reasons why.  

It started as a website for poking acquaintances and has now become one of the most powerful engines of communication in the world. 

22% of the global population is on Facebook. Out of this, 1.85 billion are daily active users and 2.8 billion are monthly active users.  

Facebook is the third-most visited website in the world and the fourth-most valuable brand in the world. It operates in over 190 countries and 111 different languages.  


If Facebook were a country, it would be substantially bigger than China. And this tech giant is by all means more powerful than most countries.  

Some biggest revolutions in the world have gained strength because of Facebook.  

The Arab spring in West Asia, Euro-maidan revolution in Ukraine and even the ongoing protests in Myanmar, Facebook has also helped politicians seize power. In the 2016 US elections, the Trump campaign sent out 50,000 different messages in a day. Tweaking each one depending on how people reacted. The rest is history. Andrew Bosworth, a close friend of Mark Zuckerberg, once claimed that the company was responsible for Trump getting elected.  

The Cambridge Analytica scandal served as a reminder of Facebook's power. The data of at least 87 million Facebook users was harvested without consent and then used to influence their voting behaviour. Now, Facebook has banned news in Australia.  

Yet another reminder of its power and monopoly but how does this tech giant get away with such scandals & misuse of power?  

Much of it has do to with how the internet works. It is not controlled by anyone. There are not many consequences for the decisions of tech giants. No concrete punitive action in case of blunders, no accountability for their decisions and no system of keeping a check on their political biases.  

In the last few years, Facebook along with Twitter and Google has been subjected to several grillings by the US Congress over its unchecked power. Each time, American lawmakers promised to restrict the power of Facebook but there has been little action.