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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Boyd: ‘Facebook needs a whole new algorithm’

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Facebook is a mess.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news as of late, you know Facebook has more than an image crisis on its hands.

A few weeks ago, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen blew the whistle on Facebook’s shady practices. Haugen has testified in the U.S. and United Kingdom, divulging all of the social media platform’s dirty little secrets. Haugen shared internal discussions with the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as provided Congress with redacted documents.

We’ve heard rumblings over the years of Facebook’s dubious algorithms and accountability standards. We’ve seen organizations and legislators call for more transparency and government oversight for Facebook. The deeper we get into these papers, the more we learn just how horribly Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg operated and why some of those early concerns about Facebook are not unfounded.

Zuckerberg seems to have the makings of a wannabe dictator. He has a majority of the company’s voting shares, controls the board and is surrounded by yes men. He also thinks he’s above government regulations. I’ve often said he’s trying to take over the world because Facebook keeps moving into spaces inhabited by other social media platforms and killing them — or at least trying to if not outright buying the competition.

Initially, Facebook tried to discredit Haugen by saying she didn’t have firsthand knowledge of the issues she leaked since she didn’t work in those areas. But then came the hard evidence and Facebook is on the defense. Seventeen newspapers across the country have united to form The Facebook Papers project to report on the leaked documents. In addition, a separate collaboration happened with European newspapers.

The newspapers found Facebook violated its own policy when it allowed former President Donald Trump’s post about George Floyd on May 28, 2020, to stand.

According to The Associated Press (AP), “By June 2, ‘we can see clearly that the entire country was basically ‘on fire,’ a Facebook employee wrote of the increase in hate speech and violence reports in the June 5 memo.’”

Facebook claims there’s no way to know just how many hate speech reports stemmed from Trump’s post or how many stemmed from the controversy over Floyd’s death.

But that’s not totally true.

“‘Our violence and incitement classifier was almost 90% certain that this (Trump) post violated Facebook’s … policy,’ the June 5 analysis read,” according to AP.

I, like many people, have a love-hate relationship with the social media platform.

Professionally, a Facebook page is vital for businesses — especially a media business. The Recorder uses the platform to share articles, promote our events and host virtual events. It’s a great tool to use to communicate with a large number of people. Facebook is where the action’s at for businesses.

Personally, I love how Facebook keeps me connected to family and friends, especially those who live outside Indiana, or who I lost contact with over the years. I can share news about the latest happenings in my life as well as pictures. I can see what’s happening in their lives as well. I enjoy reading posts about good news or watching children grow up over the years.

Like anything else in life, what can be used for good can also be used for bad, which is why there are days I avoid Facebook. Too many people use it to attack and bully those who disagree with their views. The COVID-19 pandemic and social justice protests of 2020 forced me to take mini breaks from it as I grew tired of misinformation being spread in the name of “truth” and “research” on COVID-19. I couldn’t stomach the vitriol people typed because Black people were protesting against state-sanctioned murders of other Black people.

My instincts were right to limit my interaction with Facebook. We now know Zuckerberg and other executives knew the platform was being used to radicalize and spread misinformation and did very little to mitigate the problem. This is a classic case of ego and arrogance. Americans love to take down someone who’s gotten too big for his britches. Facebook is supposed to announce a name change yet this week (which could come during the printing of this edition). At this point, it will take more a public relations ploy of a name change to fix Facebook’s problems. Facebook needs a whole new algorithm.

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