“Facebook is going to try to be a monopoly, why would it not?” asks Columbia University law professor and information monopoly expert Tim Wu. “Fortunately, it’s a monopoly of social networking. It’s not like it’s bread or something.”
But the potential for Facebook to have the world’s monopoly on social networking is not trivial, concedes Wu. It will, after all, be the world’s largest repository for personal data, as well as the world’s largest digital phone book.
According to Wu, there are three entities that can regulate Facebook—and anything else for that matter: government can regulate from the top down, consumers can revolt from the bottom up, and the company leaders can regulate themselves by choosing to be virtuous.
“That’s why Google hasn’t been broken up,” says Wu. “They have not been evil. That, and they don’t know nearly as much about you.”
When asked whether it Facebook seems like the kind of company that will engage in rigorous self-regulation, Wu was skeptical. “It doesn’t look that promising,” he says.