The company formerly known as Facebook has rebranded itself as “Meta.” Digital rights group Fight for the Future issued the following statement, which can be attributed to the organization’s very tired director, Evan Greer (she/her):
“It’s tempting to view Facebook’s rebranding as nothing more than a cynical attempt by the company to distance itself from endless scandals and the real-world harm caused by its surveillance capitalist business model. But it’s actually much more sinister than that. With this announcement Mark Zuckerberg revealed his end game: he’s making a play to control the future of the Internet.
Fight for the Future has long advocated for decentralized, community-driven alternatives to Big Tech monopolies and their abusive business practices. Decentralized tech projects––ranging from Matrix to Filecoin––are often broadly referred to as “Web 3,” the next iteration of the World Wide Web. With his push for Facebook to build and dominate the “metaverse,” and colonizing forays into digital currencies and NFTs, Zuckerberg is co-opting the terminology of decentralization and attempting to solidify his stranglehold on the future of human attention and interaction.
We urgently need to enact policies that reduce the harm that Facebook’s surveillance-driven algorithmic manipulation product is doing right now––first and foremost by finally passing a real Federal data privacy law in the US. And we need to reject misguided proposals like gutting Section 230, which would further entrench giants like Facebook and Google while trampling on the basic human rights of marginalized communities.
But most importantly, we need to stop looking backward and recognize that the Internet is changing. We are heading toward Web 3 whether we want to or not, and we need to fight tooth and nail to ensure that the policies governing this next generation of the Internet are carefully crafted to protect vulnerable communities, free expression and human rights––and that they don’t undermine the potential of truly decentralized technologies, which could help finally end the era of Big Tech surveillance capitalism.
There is no guarantee that the next iteration of the Internet is better than the last. It’s fun to dunk on Zuck and laugh about overpriced NFTs and doge coin bros, but if those who care about human rights and democracy don’t engage with the transition to the next generation of the web in a serious way, it’s almost guaranteed that Web 3 will be worse, not better for humanity. We are at a crossroads. It’s time to decide what we want the future of the Internet to look like. And then it’s time to fight for that vision. Before it’s too late.”
Fight for the Future and dozens of other human rights organizations from around the world have launched HowToStopFacebook.org, a coalition campaign demanding the US finally enact a Federal data privacy law “strong enough to kill Facebook’s surveillance capitalist business model.” No, we won’t be changing the name of the site.