Former Facebook Director Donald Graham says that regulation of Google and Facebook will slow them down dramatically and probably impair their futures significantly. He said that the idea that companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are permanent just isn’t so. However, Graham believes strongly that Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are the two people that can fix Facebook.
Donald Graham, Graham Holdings chairman, former Facebook Director and past publisher of the Washington Post discussed the current Facebook crisis and the impact of potential regulation on big tech in an interview on CNBC:
I don’t see another model that remotely could build today’s Facebook. Facebook, ever since its inception, ever since the earliest days and the earliest years, has inspired a lot of emotion and a lot of emotional reactions. My feeling when one of these things happens is we should take a deep breath, we should think about what we ourselves use Facebook for.
Google you need to use. Amazon you often need use. Apple you either need one of their phones or the competitors phones. Nobody needs to go on Facebook unless they find it enjoyable or useful and I find I continue to find it both. That does not diminish the importance of the misuse of the platform by Russian and other state actors in 2016. Facebook’s got a big job cleaning it up and despite what some of the things that have been said I believe as strongly as I can in the two people working to fix it.
Everybody is waving their arms at them, at the tech companies right now, and screaming that they need to be regulated. I have a sort of troglodyte view here, I think any regulation of the likes of Google and Facebook will slow them down dramatically, probably impair their futures significantly. When companies are going very very well, as Google has been for years, as Apple and Amazon have been, and as Facebook has been, there’s a tendency to view them as permanent and that isn’t so.
When I was starting out in business, IBM was the colossus that you couldn’t do anything about and then Microsoft was. Business changes. Does Facebook have a long run in front of it? That will have a lot to do with the way they handle these issues and the public perception of the company. I don’t think that’s guaranteed.
This is the city where nothing happens. It may be that the regulation of social media companies is an exception and Congress can somehow pull itself together and pass a bill, but it’s usually wise to bet the other side. There may be some regulation of Facebook, there’s certainly this Honest Ads Act that Facebook has sort of pre-adopted. I think it’s a very good thing and that’s an example of something that could be done.