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Some are, but nearly 1. They use it to stay in touch with distant relatives and friends. They like to share their photos and their thoughts. They do not want to believe that the same platform that has become a powerful habit is also responsible for so much harm. Facebook has leveraged our trust of family and friends to build one of the most valuable businesses in the world, but in the process, it has been careless with user data and aggravated the flaws in our democracy while leaving citizens ever less capable of thinking for themselves, knowing whom to trust or acting in their own interest.

Bad actors have had a field day exploiting Facebook and Google, leveraging user trust to spread disinformation and hate speech, to suppress voting and to polarize citizens in many countries. They will continue to do so until we, in our role as citizens, reclaim our right to self-determination. Democracy depends on shared facts and values. It depends on deliberation and the rule of law. It depends on having a free press and other countervailing forces to hold the powerful accountable. Facebook along with Google and Twitter has undercut the free press from two directions: it has eroded the economics of journalism and then overwhelmed it with disinformation.

On Facebook, information and disinformation look the same; the only difference is that disinformation generates more revenue, so it gets better treatment. To Facebook, facts are not an absolute; they are a choice to be left initially to users and their friends but then magnified by algorithms to promote engagement. Like-minded people can share their views, but they can also block out any fact or perspective with which they disagree. Recent history suggests that the threat to democracy is real.

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The efforts to date by Facebook, Google and Twitter to protect future elections may be sincere, but there is no reason to think they will do anything more than start a game of whack-a-mole with those who choose to interfere. Only fundamental changes to business models can reduce the risk to democracy. Facebook remains a threat to the powerless around the world. Lack of language skills and cultural insensitivity have blinded Facebook to the ways in which its platform can be used to harm defenseless minorities.

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This has already played out with deadly outcomes in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Facebook remains a threat to privacy. There need to be versions of Facebook News Feed and all search results that are free of manipulation. Users need to own their data and have absolute control over how it gets used. Users have a right to know the name of every organization and person who has their data.

This would apply not just to the platforms but also to cellular carriers and the third parties that gain access to user data. Another important regulatory opportunity is data portability, such that users can move everything of value from one platform to another. This would help enable startups to overcome an otherwise insurmountable barrier to adoption. Platforms should also be transparent to users, advertisers and regulators. Users should always own all their own data and metadata—and they should be compensated much better for it. Third-party audits of algorithms, comparable to what exists now for financial statements, would create the transparency necessary to limit undesirable consequences.

There should be limits on what kind of data can be collected, such that users can limit data collection or choose privacy. This needs to be done immediately, before new products like Alexa and Google Home reach mass adoption. Smart home devices are currently an untamed frontier of data, with the potential for massive abuse. Lastly, I would like to prevent deployment of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and automated bots without proof that they serve humans rather than exploit them.

If I consider Google, Amazon and Facebook purely in investment terms, I cannot help but be impressed by the brilliant way they have executed their business plans. The problem is unintended consequences, which are more numerous and severe than we can afford. Google and Facebook are artificially profitable because they do not pay for the damage they cause. The U. If my hypothesis is correct, the country has begun a risky experiment in depending on monopolists for innovation, economic growth and job creation.

Their success has raised the bar for startups, narrowing the opportunities for outsize success and forcing entrepreneurs to sell out early or pursue opportunities with less potential. They have built additional walls through the acquisition of startups that might have posed a competitive threat. These companies do not need to choke off startup activities to be successful, but they cannot help themselves. That is what monopolists do. In terms of economic policy, I want to set limits on the markets in which monopoly-class players like Facebook, Google and Amazon can operate.

The economy would benefit from breaking them up. A first step would be to prevent acquisitions, as well as cross subsidies and data sharing among products within each platform. I favor regulation as a way to reduce harmful behavior. The most effective regulations will force changes in business models. Our parents and grandparents had a similar day of reckoning with tobacco. From a technology perspective, the most promising path forward is through innovation, something over which the platforms have too much influence today.

Antitrust enforcement can create space for innovation, but we need more. In America, if you want to solve a problem, it helps to incorporate the profit motive, which we can do by shifting the focus of technology from exploiting the weakest links in human psychology to a commitment to empowering users. What would human-driven technology look like?


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It would empower users rather than exploit them. Human-driven social networks would enable sharing with friends, but without massive surveillance, filter bubbles and data insecurity. In exchange for adopting a benign business model, perhaps based on subscriptions, startups would receive protection from the giants. Given that social media is practically a public utility, I think it is worth considering more aggressive strategies, including government subsidies.

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The government already subsidizes energy exploration, agriculture and other economic activities that the country considers to be a priority, and it is not crazy to imagine that civically responsible social media may be essential to the future of the country. The subsidies might come in the form of research funding, capital for startups, tax breaks and the like.

The Next Big Thing offers opportunities to rethink the architecture of the Internet. For example, I would like to address privacy with a new model of authentication for website access that permits websites to gather only the minimum amount of data required for each transaction. It would work like a password manager, but with a couple of important distinctions: it would go beyond storing passwords to performing log-ins, and it would store private data on the device, not in the cloud.

Apple has embraced this model, offering its customers valuable privacy and security advantages over Android. All the public-health threats of Internet platforms derive from design choices. Technology has the power to persuade, and the financial incentives of advertising business models guarantee that persuasion will always be the default goal of every design.

Not every user can be influenced all the time, but nearly all users can be influenced some of the time. In the most extreme cases, users develop behavioral addictions that can lower their quality of life and that of family members, co-workers and close friends. Millions of people check their phone first thing in the morning. For most, the big question is whether they do so before they pee or while they are peeing. Far too many people report difficulty sleeping because they cannot stop using their phone or tablet.

The problem with addiction is that it deprives the victim of agency. Even when an addict understands the potential for harm, he or she cannot help but continue the activity. To change that will require more than regulation.


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It will require an investment in research and public-health services to counter Internet addiction. A growing percentage of children prefer the hyperstimulation of virtual experiences to the real world. Products like Instagram empower bullies. Texting has replaced conversation for many kids.

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Medical research bolsters the case for regulation. In addition to limits on the ages at which children may use screens like smartphones and tablets, there is evidence that phones and computers can cause distraction in classrooms. The harm to public health , democracy, privacy and competition caused by Facebook and other platforms results from their business models, which must be changed. What makes you enjoy what you do regardless of the difficulty. It provides clarity and drives your actions—especially your choices.

What you do: All the activities you perform routines, work, hobbies, roles you play, etc. Your achievements: The result of your actions. The impact you create becomes your measure of personal success. When what you do creates a positive impact, it gives you the motivation to continue doing it or to do it more often or wanting to improve your craft. When what you achieve is aligned with your purpose it makes you feel good.

Happiness is wanting what you get, as per Dale Carnegie.

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It means that you are grateful for your achievements. The intersection between your purpose, what you do, and what you achieve defines the life that you want. This is not a perfect diagram thought. Life is not. Your life is out of your control—realizing that will make you free. You cannot either control external events nor other people. But you can control your choices. Your decisions will get you closer or not to accomplish what you want the most in life.

His commitment to conquer Mexico was such that retreat was not an option. The only way to keep everyone from quitting was to take their transportation back to Spain off the table. He accomplished what he wanted the most.

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The point of no return is when your purpose and what you do are aligned. No one but you can tell you what to desire. No one is better suited than yourself to design, build, and enjoy the life that you want. Choose what you want most in life and cross the point of no return. Why wait for tomorrow? Start right now. Gustavo Razzetti is a change leadership consultant and speaker who helps build a culture of change. He writes at the intersection of self-awareness, creativity, and resilience. Few people think the world is improving, but data shows we should be optimistic.

Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Back Magazine. Subscribe Issue Archive. Back Today. Gender Segregation at Work. Changing Paradigms in International Adoption. Gustavo Razzetti The Adaptive Mind. Follow me on Twitter. Friend me on Faceook. Connect with me on LinkedIn. How does this work in the absence of definable purpose and non-meaningful "achievements"? Post Comment Your name.



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