Facebook’s promises are a joke |
“There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Haugen said on “60 Minutes”. “And Facebook, time and time again, has chosen to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”
Haugen also alleges that, as Facebook tightened its policies against inflammatory political disinformation in the run-up to the 2020 election, the company again relaxed those policies as soon as the election ended. We know the result: Much of the ‘Stop the Steal’ nonsense – a gunned lie alleging widespread electoral fraud, encouraged by President Donald Trump, which fueled the violent Jan. 6 insurgency on Capitol Hill – circulated on Facebook .
Instead of blaming Facebook, replied the company’s head of global affairs Nick Clegg, we should blame “the perpetrators of the violence, and those in politics and elsewhere who actively encouraged them.” He argues that Facebook is not a “root cause” of the polarization that divides the country into warring tribes.
But is that supposed to absolve the company? Do Facebook executives feel blameless because their decisions simply facilitated the spread of a dangerous lie, with deadly consequences? By all means, do justice to the rioters. But Facebook’s hand twist isn’t exactly convincing.
Facebook cannot deny that its algorithms amplify toxic disinformation. I wholeheartedly believe in free speech, so yes people should have the right to say crazy things. But there is a difference between allowing users to post vile nonsense and feeding someone who “likes” that nonsense more with the same bile.