Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO at Facebook, recently admitted that his social networking service has problems. And, he promised to do better in 2018. The article is important since it highlights the issues causing concerns for Mr. Zuckerberg. The Independent UK reported:
"Each year, the Facebook boss takes on a challenge to complete over the year. For 2018, he has promised to try and fix his company... He said that he had made the decision to concentrate on his own company this year because the world was so divided and he thinks he will "learn more by focusing intensely on these issues..." "
Huh? What else was he focused on instead? You'd think that he'd be focused 24/7/365 on a service with 23,265 employees and 2 billion monthly users worldwide.
The report by the Independent UK also described for Mr. Zuckerberg's concerns, which have implications for everyone:
"... Facebook has been blamed for helping spread hatred and division in the wake of the [2016 U.S.] election, as well as potentially helping with the spread of fake news that allowed it to tip in Donald Trump's favour. Even the site itself has admitted that it can be upsetting and disruptive for those who use it, in a press release that said using the site might be bad for you... He pointed to the fact that the rise of tech companies like Facebook and their increasing power over the internet meant that the internet was becoming centralized in a few powerful hands. He pointed to other technologies like crypto-currency as challenges to that, but said that overall people had "lost faith" in the power of the internet to decentralize things.
A number of complaints have pointed at Facebook's unprecedented power over the way the internet works as a danger. Facebook's ability to control much of the news people read has been blamed for the spread of fake reporting, for instance, and projects like Facebook's Free Basics tools have been blamed for undermining net neutrality. But many of those same projects have been attempts by Facebook to grow its user base... He said he would look at using new technologies – encryption as well as cryptocurrency – to help improve Facebook and the internet by allowing it to stop being controlled by just a few people..."
Regular readers of this blog are aware of the problems, many of which were discussed in prior posts:
- Dozens Of Companies Are Using Facebook To Exclude Older Workers From Job Ads
- Facebook to Temporarily Block Advertisers From Excluding Audiences by Race
- Do Social Media Pose Threats To Democracies?
- What We Do and Don’t Know About Facebook’s New Political Ad Transparency Initiative
- Facebook's Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men from Hate Speech But Not Black Children
- The Guardian Site Reviews Documents Used By Facebook Executives To Moderate Content
- Facebook Doesn't Tell Users Everything it Really Knows About Them
- Facebook Says it Will Stop Allowing Some Advertisers to Exclude Users by Race
- User Reports Facebook Changed Members' Ad Settings Without Notice Nor Consent
- Are You A Lab Rat, Social Addict, And Crash Test Dummy? Facebook Acted Like You Are
Will Mr. Zuckerberg and his senior management team fix these problems? Can they? Some of the ad-targeting mechanisms (that create abuses) have been around for years. Given its history, the cynic in me thinks that Facebook can only get better. Will Facebook do better in 2018? Tell us what you think.