You must have already read about the proliferation of fake news in Facebook and how the social media network helped influence the U.S. presidential election.
Mark Zuckerberg seemed to have taken note of it, but instead of strongly reaffirming his company’s position against hoaxes and misleading content, he released a lengthy letter Feb. 16 that seemed to indicate he has recognized Facebook’s power and is poised to embrace it.
The letter, which some are now calling the Zuckerberg manifesto, underscores how people are able to do great things by coming together. So the Facebook CEO is now conjuring all sorts of visions about Facebook and how it is going to change the world and solve its problems: poverty, climate change, inequality, and so on.
The goal itself may sound legitimate but some are increasingly getting nervous. The reason is that Zuckerberg wants a crowdsourced future where the community, the government, and people’s values are purportedly shaped by everyone but with Facebook running the show.
“We may not have the power to create the world we want immediately, but we can all start working on the long term today,” Zuckerberg said. “In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”
The Case Against Facebook’s Global Community
There are those who say that Zuckerberg is merely burnishing his credentials for a future political career. Some, however, are balking at the possibility of his global community because such prospect could mean entrusting our future not in the hands of elected governments but in those of Facebook executives’ and their algorithms.
You might say who cares, so long as there’s positive impact. Just imagine if this gang decides to pursue the opposite.
We have some semblance of evidence in this respect.
Back in 2015, Zuckerberg told investors that Facebook will be rewiring the way users consume and share information so they are exposed to diverse views and perspectives.
That goal did not exactly pan out. Fake news has surfaced at Facebook and helped steer the outcome of the U.S. elections. This can be blamed on the Facebook algorithm that surfaces content a user is most likely drawn to and is largely based on information he or she has previously interacted with. As a result, Facebook content reinforces emotional rather than rational content.
To top it all, there is also the role played by advertisers or how money determines the content we consume in its network.
According to Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky, instead of forging closer relationships, Facebook has instead spawned anxieties and addictions.
Now, Zuckerberg declared that the next stage for Facebook is to begin creating a global community by developing its own proprietary social infrastructure. He is selling the idea as an approach to build the kind of world we all want.
Well, we already have a taste how Facebook can give us what we want. There’s President Donald Trump, for one.
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