The case for treating Facebook as a 'hostile foreign power'

Mark Zuckerberg.
(Image credit: Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

While many of Facebook's critics are pushing for antitrust regulation to rein in the tech giant, The Atlantic's Adrienne LaFrance thinks dealing with the company also "requires a civil-defense strategy." In other words, she believes Facebook deserves to be treated like a "hostile foreign power."

LaFrance argues that Facebook effectively fits the bill as a digital nation-state, considering that it has nearly 3 billion users (more than the populations of India and China) combined, its own form of governing philosophy, and is developing its own blockchain-based payment system. And, when viewing the company as a nation-state, it's difficult to ignore "its single-minded focus on its own expansion; it's immunity to any sense of civic obligation; its record of facilitating the undermining of elections; its antipathy toward the free press; its rulers' callousness and hubris; and its indifference to the endurance of American democracy," LaFrance writes, adding that it also utilizes unethical surveillance and data-gathering strategies. "If Russia or China were taking the exact same actions to undermine democracy, Americans would surely feel differently," she contines.

In her piece, LaFrance doesn't provide a concrete strategy for taking on Facebook, acknowledging that corporate boycotts or employees lobbying for reform likely wouldn't lead to much. Instead, LaFrance believes it will ultimately be up to the site's users to demand change. Even then, if Facebook lost 1 billion profiles, there'd still be 2 billion left, so that's probably a longshot, as well. But, for now, LaFrance is just hoping people "recognize the danger" they're in and "shake the notion that Facebook is a normal company, or that hegemony is inevitable." Read more at The Atlantic.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.