The government-thinking has a secondary appeal to executive teams [of social media sites]. If their site is a country, that makes them the ruling class. It makes the CEO the president (or dictator). And again, squinting, it can kind of feel that way. Running a company, like managing a community, is literally a power trip. You can do things your members can’t, including punishing those members. Power, even tiny power, can be addictive.
But it’s not true. None of it. Your product is not a country. You are not a government. Your CEO is not a president. And, worse, thinking that way is damaging to the community, disastrous for the company, and may just be ruining the world.
Derek Powazek on false equivalences.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The widespread conflation of private platforms and businesses with public (i.e. government) services and infrastructure is like the Original Sin of late-stage capitalism. This is what causes people to cling desperately like Twitter and Facebook, under the assumption that angrily @ing Jack Dorsey is somehow equivalent to making phonecalls to political representatives. This is what causes people to say things like they “believe in” Facebook and “won’t give up on it”, won’t try out new or equivalent services, because they feel some kind of strange, pseudo-patriotism towards the platform. And this is what causes those people to think attitudes like that are somehow valorous.
Spoiler alert: a company is not a government, nor a country, nor a polity. The fact that you think it is is a lie capitalism has taught you, because the reality is the sorts of actions that work on governments (e.g. democracy, accountability) don’t work against corporations—who are accountable to their shareholders/board, not their consumers/product—and yet the foundational conceit of the nation-state (specifically, patriotism) is immensely profitable in the sense that it keeps consumers locked into a particularly brand…