Compare today’s platforms to the American Constitution: a large aggregation of citizens organized on the principle of self-government. As a work of design, the Constitution is a brilliant piece of architecture, an intellectual foundation that has stood the test of time. If James Madison were a software developer in a Harvard dorm room and not a Virginia planter, we might say he was a better coder than Mark Zuckerberg. The Constitution understands human nature. Facebook, dangerously at times, does not.
In designing the Constitution, Madison managed to appeal to people’s better angels while at the same time calculating man’s capacity to harm and behave badly. Facebook’s designers, on the other hand, appear to have assumed the best about people. They apparently expected users to connect with friends only in benign ways. While the site features plenty of baby and puppy photos, it has also become a place where ISIS brags about beheadings and Russians peddling misinformation seek to undermine the institutions of a free society.