Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) have been in hearings with government agencies this week over their responsibility in Russia's hacking of our elections. Here are some questions I would ask them:
1. Please raise your right hand and tell me if you are a media company, and if tobacco is addictive.
2. You appear to have embraced the celebrity, influence, and margins of a media firm, but not the responsibilities. Why?
3. Facebook's response to the accusation of being a vehicle of foreign interference has progressed from a "crazy idea" to admitting to "millions" of ads, to "hundreds of millions." How much worse will it get?
4. If a firm, wittingly or unwittingly, becomes weaponized by Russian intelligence, isn't the responsible thing to do to shut the firm down?
5. The average age of the Cleveland Cavaliers is 29. The Detroit Lions, also 29. A Facebook employee's average age is 28. Is it possible Facebook management doesn't have the historical context to understand the important role of the fourth estate in our society?
6. When you claim it's impossible to ensure no weaponization of your platform, don't you mean "unprofitable"? It could be stopped, but at substantial detriment to your free cash flow. Haven't you chosen profits over country?
7. If the New York Times can prevent weaponization with $100M in free cash flow, why can't Facebook with $16B?
8. Have you unwittingly committed involuntary treason?
9. What does it say to Americans when you send CEOs to book and product launches and panels, but lawyers to discuss our democracy?
11. Can you assure us that this will never happen again, as the CEOs of every major newspaper, TV, and digital media company have?
12. If you can't make the same promise as every other media CEO, shouldn't your firm warrant additional oversight or regulation?