Facebook algorithms are still not the solution to lies, misinformation and incitement, as the recent turmoil in Myanmar illustrates. The gigantic social network’s black box of an algorithm — however perky it may seem at first — can still be an insidious force throughout the world. Since I’ll be taking this week off to travel back across the country after some post-vaccination family visits, I thought it would be worthwhile to look back at Facebook, where so much political and anti-science misinformation has flourished.
Even though it’s not even close to the most egregious falsehood disseminated on Facebook, the doctored video of a “drunk” Nancy Pelosi helped laid bare a corporate culture of content at all costs. In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, a Facebook executive squirmed a little but stood up for the company’s practice of distributing misinformation.
I guess it’s high time we stopped pretending that Facebook really wants to do anything about keeping falsehoods and hoaxes off their “platform.” Come on in, Russia, the water’s fine! (Although there might be a link next to your election meddling that directs people to a certified fact-checking website.)
The libertarian culture of Silicon Valley is alive and well— and seems to be working in the service of engagement, ad revenue and a collection of tech billionaires. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg ignored a subpoena from the Canadian parliament to testify about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Next time they set foot in Canada the pair will likely be whisked away to the House of Commons.
Here’s hoping Facebook isn’t still auto-generating “thanks for being here” video collections for ISIS. Enjoy the cartoon, share it on, um, Facebook— and be sure to stop by my Patreon page.