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Opinion | Is the Problem Facebook? Or the Internet?

The Facebook Papers and whistle-blower testimony have given us yet more insight into the company’s impact on polarization and mental health, but if you could wave a magic wand and “pull the plug on Facebook,” would these problems go away? Casey Newton, the journalist behind the newsletter Platformer, says no. Imagining a universe where “Mark Zuckerberg is not the C.E.O., the company doesn’t exist — I actually don’t think you would improve the internet that much,” he says. He caveats that Facebook has never been held accountable “in any meaningful way,” but the problems are much bigger than any one platform.

This may make him a Facebook “apologist” in the eyes of Kara Swisher — which is exactly why she invited Newton onto the show to discuss everything Facebook.

[You can listen to this episode of “Sway” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

In this conversation, Newton and Swisher discuss Facebook’s rebrand to Meta and debate the merits of the metaverse. They go inside the Facebook Papers consortium looking into the whistle-blower leaks, discuss whether the company’s recent limits on facial recognition signals a shift in Mark Zuckerberg and talk about the role of government to really start regulating a behemoth company and industry.

This episode contains strong language.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Thoughts? Email us at sway@nytimes.com.

“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Daphne Chen, Caitlin O’Keefe, Elisa Gutierrez and Wyatt Orme, and edited by Nayeema Raza; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair and Kristin Lin; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Carole Sabouraud and Sonia Herrero; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Mahima Chablani.

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