Well I'm sure most ATS'ers, at least those who have had the time, have observed that Facebook's co-founder Chris Hughes has, in a recent article at
the NYT, called for the break up of Facebook. Generally speaking he seems to believe Facebook should be forced to divest itself of Instagram and
Warning, its a long and tortuous read.
At "The Atlantic" there's now an article proposing that breaking up Facebook simply isn't enough; more must be done, primarily in the sense of
eliminating the various classifications of stock ownership, i.e., voting shares vs. non-voting shares. That move would seriously dilute CEO
Zuckerberg's control of the Company. As of today, Zuckerberg controls 60% of the "voting" shares.
Facebook has two classes of stock. One of the purposes of stock ownership is to give investors a say in the way a company is governed.
That’s done through the board and through proxy votes by individual and institutional investors. In Facebook’s case, Class A shares are issued to
the latter; they are worth one vote per share. Class B shares are controlled by Zuckerberg and a small group of investors and insiders; they are worth
10 votes per share. Zuckerberg controls the majority of Class B shares. This structure, known as dual-class stock, has become more common in recent
years as a way to give founders and investors greater control of their companies, even after they go public. Proponents of the multi-class approach
sometimes claim that the structure helps executives focus on long-term growth, but critics see it as a way to avoid oversight even after a company
In reality, Facebook is simply a victim of its own success and has been heavily targeted by the Leftist Democrats since the Cambridge Analytica
scandal. They see Facebook as undermining the institutions of Democracy and causing the defeat of Hilary Clinton in 2016 via the indiscriminate
propagation of fake news and Russian propaganda. (An assertion I have serious reservations about). But it is cited in the Atlantic article that 68%
of US Adults daily use Facebook.
There is talk as well in that article that in a sense, Facebook could not be genuinely "splintered" in the sense of a break up because its a
"natural monopoly" as a social network it resembles other "natural monopolies" such as Railroads, water and electric grids. That's a important
point considering my "Modest Proposal".
And that Modest Proposal would be that Facebook be "Nationalized": to somewhat understand "Nationalization" of an industry or elements of a key
infrastructure, see: en.wikipedia.org...
In that article, you'll see that:
Although sometimes undertaken as part of a strategy to build socialism, more commonly nationalization was also undertaken and used to protect
and develop industries perceived as being vital to the nation's competitiveness (such as aerospace and shipbuilding), or to protect jobs in certain
I care nothing for building socialism, but I do see Facebook's social network as being vital to the nations security and in that sense, vital to the
nation's competitiveness. A great example of Nationalization is Germany's Rail Roads:
The railways were nationalized after World War I. Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company is owned by the Federal Republic. In 2008, it was
agreed to "float" a portion of the business, meaning an end to the 100% share the German Federal Republic had in it, with a plan that 25% of the
overall share would be sold to the private sector . However the onset of the financial crisis of 2007–08 saw this cancelled.
Another fantastic and fascinating example of Nationalization is the story of British Petroleum: See: en.wikipedia.org...
In 1913, the British government acquired a controlling interest (50.0025%) in the company and at the suggestion of Winston Churchill, the
British navy switched from coal to oil. In 1914, APOC signed a 30-year contract with the British Admiralty for supplying oil for the Royal
Navy at the fixed price.
The British government sold 80 million shares of BP at $7.58 in 1979 as part of Thatcher-era privatisation. This sale represented slightly
more than 5% of BP's total shares and reduced the government's ownership of the company to 46%. After the worldwide stock market crash on 19
October 1987, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher initiated the sale of an additional GBP7.5 billion ($12.2 billion) of BP shares at 333 pence,
representing the government's remaining 31% stake in the company.
So, up until 1979, BP was run by the UK Government and is now entirely privatized (I think). What makes that history so fascinating was that BP was
used by the Administration of the British Empire as something of a spy and intelligence gathering mechanism and as well, an instrument for weaseling
in British influence and control of overseas governments and industries, (read the article). Yes, dear readers, the stuff of Novels and intrigue.
Why should the US Nationalize Facebook?
1) Facebook operates and controls the accounts of 68% of the US Adult population and actually the number may be much higher. Should all the intel
acquired and maintained by Facebook remain in private hands? Would it not be far more prudent that the Government oversee and protect that data?
2) The intel and data acquired by Facebook provides a web of inter-connections that is essential for data mining to identify potential threats and
potential terrorist actors. Furthermore, Government Counter-terrorism analysts could use that data to better identify terror "cells" and their
nexus to overseas operators. As well, the data found on Facebook could be cross-referenced to data already acquired and archived at the NSA and the
FBI to better develop information about possible terrorist operatives both foreign and domestic.
3) Facebook accumulates an enormous sum of "familial" data as unwitting users who share information such as their being anti-vaxxers and the like.
This data could (and in my opinion should) be provided to local authorities to be used to identify potential health, safety and welfare risks. Think
of the number of times idiots have posted their hateful rants on Facebook with selfies of themselves and their caches of guns an ammo! No better way
to more speedily interdict the next mass killing than to have Government oversight of Facebook.
4) Facebook has infiltrated foreign markets around the world! Who better to use the data gathered up daily by Facebook from those overseas
5) Finally, there's the potential revenue stream to the US Government if it owns Facebook. In 2018, Facebook generated 55.8 Billion in revenue.
I could outline far more reasons the US Government should own, operate and control Facebook. It certainly seems to me that now is the time for the
Government to take such action.
I submit the aforementioned to ATS for your lively and informed debate.