Public Company or Public Enemy?

The people who run Amazon, Facebook, and Google are generally good people, with honorable intentions. The problem is that once they became public companies, responsible to shareholders, their freedom of action was radically curtailed.

However much “creating community” they want to do for the world has to happen under scrutiny from shareholders, who want the share price high and rising. To do the right thing morally and ethically can easily require cutting into profits.

Policing hate speech and reducing anti-community behavior on Facebook inevitably will involve shutting down accounts, preventing posts, and in general pushing people and content off the site. That will reduce page views, the engine for ad sales. That, in turn, could cut into Facebook’s astonishingly high earnings.

Source: David Kirkpatrick via Techonomy

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