A number of prominent figures have called for some sort of regulation of Facebook — including one of the company’s co-founders and a venture capitalist who was one of Facebook’s early backers. Much of the criticism of Facebook relates to how the company’s algorithms target users with advertising, and the “echo chambers” that can show users ideologically slanted content.
Despite the public criticism, the company has continued to post record profits. And billions of people — including more than two-thirds of American adults — continue to use the unregulated version of Facebook that exists now.
I have been studying the social dynamics of the internet for 30 years, and I suspect that what’s behind these apparent contradictions is something psychological. People know about Facebook’s problems, but each person assumes he or she is largely immune — even while imagining that everyone else is very susceptible to influence. That paradox helps explain why more than 2 billion people continue to use the site each month. And it also helps explain what’s behind the pressure to regulate.