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Jews, Facebook and Reflections on the Social Network

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Back in 2010 the movie The Social Network about the world’s then youngest billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, who created Facebook while an undergraduate at Harvard University, attracted a lot of attention. The film is about the revolutionary nature of Facebook and how it redefined social interaction. It is a mixture of fact and fiction but also a compelling story of greed, friendships, sex and  betrayal. It is also an uncomfortable illustration of the limits of a  Yiddishe kp, the  shortcomings of intellectual brilliance and the meaning of Jewish identity.

Since the movie came out, the reach of Facebook has increased  exponentially. Today, the company employs 17,000 people in 15 countries, boasts nearly a third of the world’s population as users of its service, and has invested heavily in a project to make the internet (and Facebook) accessible to everyone in the world.

I got to thinking about Facebook over the last few weeks with the news that the G7 is seeking to tax big tech companies and that Biden is seeking ways of holding internet platforms accountable, something Australia and our Treasurer have already been at the forefront of. With the spectacular news of Operation Ironside this week and how Australia dismantled a global crime ring through a brilliant online sting, it’s worth reflecting on the power of the internet to be both a constructive and destructive force in our lives.

Facebook has become one of the world’s most influential  institutions. It  has been attacked as  a business run  by  extremely rich people who have spent several years denying the responsibility their power gives them. Facebook is more than a social media network, it’s also where 44 percent of Americans and many across the world get the majority of their news. And the world as seen through Facebook looks completely different to different users, depending on what personal information they’ve historically fed the site’s  algorithm. These  are important issues about moral  responsibility, the  abuse of privacy, the sinister, insidious  nature of a surveillance society and the exploitation of personal information.

Zuckerberg  recently  wrote a........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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