November 29, 2018

ANTISOCIAL MEDIA: Fixing Facebook: Zuckerberg falls short of his New Year’s goal.

Over the year, Zuckerberg published a series of notes outlining what Facebook’s done to combat election meddling, as well as hate speech, misinformation and other offensive content. The social network pulled down more than 1.5 billion fake accounts, launched a database of political ads and announced the creation of a Supreme Court-like independent body to oversee content appeals.

But in many ways, Zuckerberg fell short of his New Year’s resolution. United Nations investigators said Facebook played a role in spreading hate speech that fueled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Media outlets found loopholes and errors in Facebook’s political ads database. Users questioned whether they should #DeleteFacebook after learning that Cambridge Analytica, a UK political consulting firm with ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, gathered data on up to 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

In short, Facebook’s problems ballooned out of the the company’s control.

“They created a platform where sharing was mindlessly easy and interacting with each other required almost no forethought at all,” said Woodrow Hartzog, a law and computer science professor at Northeastern University. “As a result, there was massive sharing, including gushing of personal information that put lots of people at risk.”

That’s a feature, not a bug, and vital to Facebook’s business model.

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