The Stink of Big Tobacco at Tech CEO Hearings

Live on CNN this weekend was the personification of everything wrong with social media. Mark Zuckerberg. On the twentieth anniversary of Facebook, the founder of Meta attempted to deride his own company’s research. But first he apologized to parents whose children have had mental health issues – some resulting in suicide – then insisted that his company had nothing to do with causing the issues.

This is all depressingly familiar to a decades-long dispute with big tobacco in the last years of the twentieth century. Actually, the big tobacco lawsuit was even mentioned in the hearing, but only in terms of the need to introduce more effective legislation this time around.

The similarity this article refers to is the monstrous arrogance of the tobacco companies claiming that cigarettes aren’t linked to health issues. Not major stuff. Just heart disease, lung cancer, emphysema and what was the other one? Oh yeah, death.

Mark Zuckerberg made a particularly ironic statement in his so-called apology to the public audience during the hearing. Simply, his job is to ensure Facebook is building a safe platform for the community. I’m surprised he managed to keep the smirk off his face because all the time he was being grilled, he was getting richer by the second, courtesy of his dividend offer.

If the viewer could get past Senator Josh Hawley’s ridiculous, Hollywood-esque questioning style, in which he repeatedly asked questions and then wouldn’t let Mr. Zuckerberg get three words into his reply, the evidence was mounting that there was no defense. When he was allowed to string a sentence together, I distinctly heard the words ‘no causality’.

History Repeating Itself

Big tobacco placed addictive chemicals into cigarettes, social media platforms played to the increasingly needy behaviour of children seeking validation. A villainously high percentage of smokers die because of these substances. A lower percentage of children have suffered permanent or semi-permanent mental damage from the habit of engaging on social media. Lower, but no less significant.

For every five deaths in America, one is caused by smoking. Four deaths, then, are caused by hundreds of other illnesses, road accidents, crime, and home accidents such as electrocution and poisoning. Do the math.

For every three children who engage in social media, one child has suffered a form of mental anguish, as documented in an official, internal Meta report.

One in three.

That’s either your child.

Your grandchild.

Or you.

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