Facebook CEO Vows To Rid Social Network Of Bad Info, Actors

From visiting every U.S. state to learning Mandarin, Mark Zuckerberg has a habit of setting lofty New Year’s resolutions.

This year, Facebook’s founder and CEO just made what is perhaps his most ambitious pledge yet: To cleanse his social network of trolls, purveyors of false and misleading information, and other bad actors.

“We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools,” Zuckerberg admits in a new blog post.

In so many words, the young mogul accepted some responsibility for forces dividing people in this country and worldwide. “The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do,” he acknowledged.

The solution, according to Zuckerberg, requires input from experts in the fields of history, civics, political philosophy, media, government, and technology. “I’m looking forward to bringing groups of experts together to discuss and help work through these topics,” he said.



Personally, Zuckerberg seems to be grappling with Facebook’s position in the world, and the immense power and influence it holds.

“A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people's hands,” he said. “With the rise of a small number of big tech companies [like Facebook] -- and governments using technology to watch their citizens -- many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.”

Along with slowing user growth, Facebook’s inability to curb hate speech and deceptive content represents the biggest existential threat to the company.

Among other repercussions, German officials recently vowed to fine Facebook and other tech giants more than $60 million if they can’t keep their networks clear of “obviously illegal” content, hate speech and fake news.

While it may grab users’ attention, negative and deceitful content is increasingly leaving consumers cold, research suggests.

Compared to average app users, social app users were 3.2 times more likely to be in a negative mood, according to recent findings from mobile video ad firm AdColony.

Facebook is not the only network trying to curb negative and disturbing content. In December, Twitter started cracking down on what it considers to be “hateful” content.

Zuckerberg is also engaged in a wider effort to foster more authentic engagement on Facebook, including tasking teams with reviewing and categorized hundreds of thousands of posts, which guide a machine-learning model in order to detect different types of engagement bait.

Facebook also recently agreed to implement stricter demotions for Pages that systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach in News Feed.

3 comments about "Facebook CEO Vows To Rid Social Network Of Bad Info, Actors".
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  1. Chuck Lantz from 2007ac.com, 2017ac.com network, January 5, 2018 at 10:28 a.m.

    Wow!   So, the "young mogul" has concluded that facts can be checked by asking groups of experts?  Who would have thought?

    ...and you're writing about it and I'm reading about it.  

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 5, 2018 at 11:15 a.m.

    Jail cells are a terrible thing to waste.

  3. Doc Searls from Customer Commons replied, January 5, 2018 at 1:09 p.m.

    What we're talking about here is trying to the world's most consequential algorithm—one designed to allow anybody on earth, at any budget level, to micro-target ads at highly characterized human beings, using up to millions of different combinations of targeting characteristics (including ones provided by parties outside Facebook, such as Cambridge Analytica, which have deep psychological profiles of millions of Facebook members)—by giving actual human beings (not just fancy machine systems doing AI, ML and other cool hot tech stuff) what The Wall Street Journal calls (here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-worst-job-in-technology-staring-at-human-depravity-to-keep-it-off-facebook-1514398398) "The Worst Job in Technology: Staring at Human Depravity to Keep It Off Facebook." This is not only ironic to an extreme rarely seen, but also impossible to pull off. Facebook's message-aiming system (good for fake news as well as ads) is too complex, too massive (Facebook has many data centers, each the size of a Walmart or few) and too good at what it does. You know Goethe's (or hell, Disney's) story of The Sorceror's Apprentice? Look it up. Because Mark Zuckerberg is both the the sorcerer and the apprentice. The difference is that the sorcerer is not the master it's his job to be, because mastery over the spirits of violated personal privacy, echo-chamber-producing algorithms and boundless wealth production under conditions both morally wrong yet fully rationalized, cannot be achieved by good intentions alone, or even the high level of technical expertise Mark possesses. The best thing he can do is get the hell out, let it burn itself down (which it will—all Silicon Valley corporate projects like his do that eventually) and start over with something new and better, based on learnings from mistakes as well as his own genius (which he does have, let's grant him that much). Bonus fact: Google has the same problem, but is more aware of it, more diversified, founded on far better intentions (that stuff about all the world's knowledge, vs. making an electronic college yearbook) and therefore more likely to survive.

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