Facebook is Harming Our Society. Here’s a Radical Solution for Reining it In

Source: Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post Oct 5th, 2021

Ex Google and Facebook employee Frances Haugen has revealed herself as the Facebook whistleblower. She could not have made things clearer to CBS’s 60 minutes. “Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money”.

In case you still had any doubt it’s the outrage, hate and lies that drive digital engagement, and therefore revenue. The system is broken. And we all suffer from it. Too much of the digital world operates according to Mark Zuckerberg’s famous motto: “Move fast and break things.”

But how to fix it? A problem that threatens the underpinnings of our civil society calls for a radical solution: A new federal agency focused on the digital economy. Read the full story in the Washington Post article.

“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Haugen told CBS. “Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”

Facebook is thoroughly aware that the mental health of teens is damaged by engagement with Instagram, which it owns. One slide from an internal presentation stated, “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression”.

Facebook has built a business model it knows relies on the anger and outrage of its nearly 3 billion users. “Misinformation, toxicity and violent content are inordinately prevalent among reshares,” according to its own data scientists. According to Haugen, this motivates politicians to communicate and govern differently.

Facebook’s representatives deny many of her charges, “to suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true.” Meanwhile Facebook keeps growing in size, value and influence…

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