Facebook is capable of being a tool for the greater good, but right now, it's falling way short of that potential, writes Philip Howard at Slate. His solution: Let's nationalize it, even though the idea "might seem crazy." We could start with a public majority stake in the company, and shrink that stake once public trust in the social network is restored. The benefits would be wide-ranging: First, it would allow us to fix those "woeful privacy practices," maybe by regulating it as if it were a public utility. "Facebook would have to rise to First Amendment standards rather than their own terms of service."
Next, it would let the site "fulfill its true potential for providing social good." Nationalization could, for example, change site rules so that activists fighting dictatorships wouldn't have to reveal their true identities—as the site currently requires. Finally, it could allow a healthy kind of data mining, using information to improve public health or track down criminal networks. Of course, the nationalization idea "is probably a nonstarter"—but it's a helpful way to examine privacy and data-mining concerns. "Facebook is now public infrastructure, and it should be treated as such." Click through for the full piece.