Thank God Facebook doesn’t supply electricity and water

We have been shocked by Facebook’s Australian news ban because we have been labouring under a misapprehension: We thought it was a public utility.

It was conceived as a utility (for Harvard University students) and founder Mark Zuckerberg has been masterful in characterising the platform as a democratic space since it moved beyond the ivy league university community to embrace ordinary folk like you and me.

The generic term ‘social media platform’ lends further weight to the perception that it is like a digital version of the companies that supply our electricity and phone services. We see it as a multimedia replacement for yesterday’s mail and landline.

So, when the company suddenly cut Australian news media sources – and, temporarily, weather and some emergency services – the shock didn’t stop at the continent’s vast shoreline. Many countries asked, ‘How could this possibly happen?’

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