We have been highly critical of Zuckerberg in the past, but Peggy Noonan, an influential political pundit, takes anti-Zuckerberg “mood affiliation” bias to a whole new level in this mostly incoherent and anecdotal op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. The main problem with Peggy Noonan’s diatribe is that it focuses only on the “bad” aspects of Facebook:
Facebook’s famous sins and failings include the abuse of private data, selling space to Russian propagandists in the 2016 presidential campaign, monopolistically acquiring competitors, political mischief, and turning users into the unknowing product.
Let’s put aside the fact that Facebook has taken steps to remedy its privacy abuses, that the Russians did not sway a single vote, and that there are no barriers to entry into the social media market. As our friend and colleague Tyler Cowen, an economist and hyper-blogger with pro-business mood affiliation biases of his own, makes clear, one must also be willing to weigh the “good” aspects of Facebook, Google, and other Big Tech firms:
I would like to speak up for the tech companies, especially the big ones. They have brought human beings into closer contact with each other than ever before … mostly through social media. They also have placed so much of the world’s information at our fingertips, and more often than not it is accessible within minutes or even seconds. Whatever problems these developments may have brought in their wake, they are unparalleled achievements and arguably the greatest advances of the contemporary world.
So, what happens when competing mood affiliation biases collide? If you are a consequentialist, isn’t it obvious …?