First, for the younger generation, we need to start by explaining who Mozilla is. Initially, Mozilla was an early leader in internet web browsers, but now is being called, “The Tech Firm that Got Left Behind”. Mozilla was once a household name that had a 30% market share, now it has just 4% of the total web browser market share in America. The company has been besieged by mass layoffs.
You can read more about the rise and fall of Mozilla here.
Now, Google Chrome holds 64% of the browser market followed by Apple’s Safari at 19%. Firefox is in third place at 3% tied with Samsung and Microsoft Edge browsers.
Today, in an effort to become relevant, Mozilla, the parent company of the Firefox web browser called for the de-platforming of non-conforming social media and media news platforms, going even further, saying, “We need more than de-platforming.”
“There is no question that social media played a role in the siege and take-over of the US Capitol on January 6,” said Mozilla’s female CEO Mitchell Baker.
Mitchell Baker, CEO of Mozilla
Since then there has been significant focus on the deplatforming of President Donald Trump. By all means the question of when to deplatform a head of state is a critical one, among many that must be addressed. When should platforms make these decisions? Is that decision-making power theirs alone?
But as reprehensible as the actions of Donald Trump are, the rampant use of the internet to foment violence and hate, and reinforce white supremacy is about more than any one personality. Donald Trump is certainly not the first politician to exploit the architecture of the internet in this way, and he won’t be the last. We need solutions that don’t start after untold damage has been done.
Changing these dangerous dynamics requires more than just the temporary silencing or permanent removal of bad actors from social media platforms.
Baker said aside from de-platforming, more drastic measures are needed.
Reveal who is paying for advertisements, how much they are paying and who is being targeted. Commit to meaningful transparency of platform algorithms so we know how and what content is being amplified, to whom, and the associated impact. Turn on by default the tools to amplify factual voices over disinformation. Work with independent researchers to facilitate in-depth studies of the platforms’ impact on people and our societies, and what we can do to improve things. These are actions the platforms can and should commit to today.
The answer is not to do away with the internet, but to build a better one that can withstand and gird against these types of challenges. This is how we can begin to do that.