Facebook lobbyist Nick Clegg praises his medium’s services and calls for more regulation. But behind his plea lies self-interest.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of policy, speaks during the DLD innovation conference Photo: Lino Mirgeler/dpa
Former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was a guest at the Digital Live Design (DLD) 2020 conference in Munich on Monday. Clegg was bought by Facebook in the fall of 2018 and has since been doing good weather for the store as a communications whiz. His appearance at the DLD in Munich then also made headlines.
"We must be regulated," is the title of his almost pleading interview in the Suddeutsche Zeitung. "We don’t want to prevent regulation, quite the opposite," Clegg also writes in a guest article for the FAZ, where he sanctimoniously states: "Not only have we long accepted the need for new regulation in many areas, but we also want to finally tackle implementation." His subliminal message: politics can’t get out of its own way, and Facebook has nothing to reproach itself for. A lot could be said about that. For example, that Clegg always plays the same record.
Unfortunately, no one at Monday’s DLD knew that the Saudis had hacked Jeff Bezos’ WhatsApp account. The Amazon CEO, after all, has a side job as the owner of the Washington Post, for which columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by the Saudis, wrote. At the same time, Facebook and its little daughter WhatsApp are making it abundantly clear what can go wrong in the digital world. Facebook is a great place for covertly spreading manipulation, political nonsense and hatred. And on WhatsApp, abbreviated messages always lead to misunderstandings that would never happen in a face-to-face conversation.
The Federal Cartel Office is investigating
In Munich, Clegg of course indignantly rejected all accusations that Facebook is a democracy and communication killer. Tens of thousands of "cleaners" were, after all, working around the world to clean up the mess. Since 2016, Facebook has reduced the amount of misleading information by 50 percent, Clegg said. Unfortunately, this means that the glass is still half full. And now politicians should please regulate it. Of course, this is also to rule out what Facebook is really afraid of in the end.
Because competition regulators like the German Federal Cartel Office are currently examining whether the companies are not too powerful and should be dismantled. "To ensure that technology is used in the interests of society, it is better to regulate the technology industry than simply to break up successful companies," Clegg writes openly in the FAZ. At the DLD, he enthused that it would be great to be able to offer humanity services financed by advertising and thus free of charge.
Which brings us back to Fake News; free TV was never free either. Customers pay for advertising when they shop. In Clegg’s native language: "If you’re not paying for the service, you’re the product.