Turns out that all the misinformation, online harassment, industry stranglehold, and security deficits inherent in Facebook’s very model of operation are just signs of good ol’ fashioned American patriotism. At least, according to Mark Zuckerberg. That’s what unnamed sources told media outlets earlier today would be the gist of the Facebook CEO’s statement before Congress, currently scheduled for Wednesday.
The House antitrust subcommittee will also hear from CEOs of Apple, Google, and Amazon, but so far, it seems Zuckerberg will be the only one to tie government oversight to anti-American sentiments.
As American as apple pie — Zuckerberg reportedly will frame his reasoning such that any restriction on Facebook’s ever-increasing “innovations” (or, as the FTC is reportedly considering, violations of antitrust law) would be handing a win to China, which is obviously very bad and very much not America. This has nothing to do, of course, with Facebook’s repeated, failed attempts to enter Chinese markets, or Zuckerberg’s almost certain, if impossible, desire to gobble up the Chinese-owned social media juggernaut TikTok like he’s already done Instagram and WhatsApp.
In the past, Zuckerberg has stressed the importance of not allowing China to gain the upper hand in global internet influence, arguing that the country’s authoritarian, undemocratic values are a threat to freedom. Which, okay fair — but also, let’s not forget who’s in charge over here.
Do as Zuck says, not as he does — The potential strategy isn’t too surprising on Zuckerberg’s part. China, after all, is a favorite critical callback for Donald Trump, who just loves to threaten “very easy to win” trade wars with the country and accuse virus microbes of pro-Xi Jinping agendas. Framing scrutiny of Facebook’s success as potentially exploitable by the Chinese government could push Trump to voice his support for the social media company’s “patriotism.” And, let’s be honest here, it’s not like Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t tried to appease Donald before.