Latest News

Facebook acknowledges social media's risks to democracy

Monday, January 22, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!


WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Facebook acknowledged Monday that widespread use of social media can be harmful to democracy, while pledging to work to minimise these risks.

The world's biggest social network's comments were the latest response to persistent criticism for its role in allowing the spread of misinformation, reinforcing "filter bubbles" and facilitating harassment of dissidents and activists.

"Now, we're as determined as ever to fight the negative influences and ensure that our platform is unquestionably a source for democratic good," said Katie Harbath, Facebook's head of global politics and government outreach, in a statement.

Facebook civic engagement chief Samidh Chakrabarti said in a blog post the social network was "far too slow to recognise how bad actors were abusing our platform" and that the company is now "working diligently to neutralise these risks."

The "hard questions" blog post was part of an effort by Facebook to reboot its image after last week's announcement indicating it would call on its users to "rank" the trustworthiness of sources as part of an effort to stem the flow of false news.

"While I'm an optimist at heart, I'm not blind to the damage that the internet can do to even a well-functioning democracy," Chakrabati said.

He added that Facebook is constantly working to balance the value of openness and transparency with efforts to stop manipulation.

"Many human rights organisations commonly use Facebook to spread educational messages around the world," he said. "The wrong kind of transparency could put these activists in real danger in many countries."

Chakrabarti added that Facebook is also struggling with "hate speech," and limiting the spread of violent propaganda while remaining an open platform.

"Policing this content at a global scale is an open research problem since it is hard for machines to understand the cultural nuances of political intimidation," he said.

"And while we are hiring over 10,000 more people this year to work on safety and security, this is likely to remain a challenge."

In an accompanying guest blog post, Harvard professor Cass Sunstein said one of the difficult questions for social media and democracy is how news feeds are personalised.

"What social media platforms do is to make certain kinds of targeting and certain kinds of self-sorting and especially self-sorting among hundreds, thousands, or millions of strangers a lot easier — easier than it has ever been," Sunstein wrote.

"The good news is that social media platforms are hardly a finished fact to be categorically assessed. They are very much a work in progress."

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT