Roger McNamee, a longtime investor in Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor, wants the social media platform investigated. He raised this demand at the Web Summit tech conference held in Lisbon, Portugal. McNamee’s Elevation Partners invested $210 million in Facebook before the platform went public in 2011. It was only eight years later in 2018 when Facebook’s stock quadrupled that McNamee started selling his holdings in the platform.
At the conference, McNamee outlined four felony investigations he wants to be investigated against the platform: 1) Facebook management’s complicity in the “Stop the Steal” campaign which he believes led to the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol; 2) Facebook’s failure to disclose information about its business to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); 3) Facebook enabling human trafficking via its platform which McNamee says was “paid to enable it to happen;” 4) Facebook’s potential ad price-fixing together with Google; the punishment for the crime being three and a half years in prison for all executives.
McNamee wants two more investigations but did not detail them. He also brought attention to the rising demand that the extraction of user data for manipulating the behavior of consumers be grouped together with child labor.
“Extracting the essence of our humanity in data form and then using it to manipulate our behavior is as unethical as child labor and it should be banned the same way that child labor was banned,” he said.
In a recent interview with CNN, McNamee criticized the business model of social media and the culture of “relentlessly pursuing profit at all costs.”
When companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook get too big that they act like governments, there will be a conflict with democracy, he warned. McNamee believes that either courts or Congress are going to reign in tech platforms to protect the people or “we’re done.” He also wants some sort of competition regulation to ensure that small businesses are not at the mercy of a single big platform.
“If you think about it, almost every major problem we have going on in this country is made worse by Internet platforms like Facebook. And we have a need for something that looks like a Food and Drug Administration to ensure safety of tech products. We need to have privacy so that people are not manipulated by corporations that know absolutely everything about them,” McNamee stated.
The Facebook investor is also against the platform’s Meta project that seeks to create a virtual reality equivalent of the internet. Speaking to the BBC, McNamee said that Meta is a “bad idea” and the fact that people are looking at the project as if it is normal “should be alarming everyone.” He insisted that Facebook must not be allowed to create a “dystopian metaverse.”
Dr. David Reid, Professor of AI and Spatial Computing at Liverpool Hope University, also shares McNamee’s concerns about Meta. Reid believes that technology poses huge dangers. He wants a “highly robust system” in place to police the metaverse.
In an interview with The Sun, Reid stated that the ultimate aim of the metaverse is to blend the digital world with the real world so that distinguishing between the two can become difficult. Whoever controls the metaverse will “basically have control” over people’s reality.
“In other words everything you say, manipulate, look at, or even think about can be monitored in MR… The data this will generate will be vast…..and extremely valuable… And that’s why we need a system in place to police it. No single company should ever exert control—it’s simply too important for that to happen,” Reid said.