Facebook Under Intense Scrutiny in Wake of Whistleblower Revelations
Everyone from the British Parliament to the U.S. Congress is taking a lot of time to listen to Francis Haugen, a former Facebook employee. Haugen walked out of Facebook with a lot of information that has politicians paying close attention and for good reason.
This week we found several articles in bloomberg.com that break down the latest legal rain that is currently falling on Mark Zuckerburg and company.
Facebook Hobbled Team Tasked With Stemming Harmful Content
Facebook, Alarmed by Teen Usage Drop, Left Investors in the Dark
Facebook Staff Say Core Products Make Misinformation Worse
Facebook Privately Worried About Hate Speech Spawning Violence
And for the most part, what the articles are pointing out is: Facebook knew about all the problems we as users have been unhappy with for years. They knew full well about the dangers to teen girls on Instagram. They knew that misinformation rated higher than facts and those ratings meant more money for FB’s bottom line.
While making money for your company is the whole idea behind American capitalism when those profits begin to warp society, how much is too much?
The U.S. Senate is really focusing on what kind of new legislation should be considered that will check the problems with several social media sites. Facebook as much as said they can’t control the problems their algorithms are creating and that Congress needs to put something on the floor.
Is It Time To Break Facebook Up?
Senator Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat who as chair of the Senate consumer protection subcommittee has led the congressional investigation of Haugen’s allegations, last week invited Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress. Blumenthal, in a statement Monday, identified the machine-learning structure of the company’s platform as a danger not only to users but also to democracy.
“Facebook is obviously unable to police itself as its powerful algorithms drive deeply harmful content to children and fuel hate,” Blumenthal said. “This resoundingly adds to the drumbeat of calls for reform, rules to protect teens, and real transparency and accountability from Facebook and its Big Tech peers.”
Blumenthal isn’t just concerned about Facebook. He also called in executives from Google’s YouTube, TikTok, and Snap Inc. about the way their platforms’ “algorithms push emotional and evocative content, toxic content, that amplifies depression, anger, hate, anxiety” in children and teens.
When one thinks of social media, one has to be aware of just how huge this invention has become all over the world. Facebook has in the neighborhood of 3.5 billion users every day. That is a lot of people that have to be considered when writing new laws.
A new bill from Representative Frank Pallone, chair of the House committee responsible for science and technology, would revoke Section 230 protections for any online platform that uses algorithms to amplify or recommend dangerous content. If you aren’t familiar with Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, it provides broad legal immunity for online platforms.
“Designing personalized algorithms that promote extremism, disinformation, and harmful content is a conscious choice,” said Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, in announcing the bill. “And platforms should have to answer for it.”
Other legislators have slightly different notions on how to rein in FB. But it looks like for once there is equal concern from Democrats and Republicans. Both sides of the aisle and both sides of The Atlantic are taking a much harder look at the digital world of social media and the long-term effects it has on individuals and societies.
Haugen, speaking to the U.K. Parliament on Monday, urged policymakers around the world to act quickly to regulate the artificial intelligence of the algorithms that underpin online platforms.
“We have a slight window of time to regain people’s control over AI,” Haugen said. “We have to take advantage of this moment.”
Take time to read and understand what is happening to our fellow citizens who are connected to these platforms but don’t see what it is doing to their families. And then review what lawmakers are considering. Your voice is important on all these issues as they are as yet to be resolved even a little.
read more at bloomberg.com