Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Menlo Park, CA, United States (4E) – Facebook conceded its social media platform is an enemy of democracy and promised to make amends by turning the beleaguered platform into a force for “good.”
Facebook made the vow in response to unrelenting and massive criticism for failing to stop the spread of fake news (especially from the Russians in the 2016 U.S. elections) and misinformation among its two billion users.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as false and outrageous the first facts confirming Russia had exploited Facebook by opening tens of thousands of accounts that published pieces in favor of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton, and that maligned the United States.
Facebook was “not blind to the damage that the internet can do to even a well-functioning democracy,” claims Samidh Chakrabarti, head of the company’s Civic Engagement Product Team.
“In 2016, we at Facebook were far too slow to recognize how bad actors were abusing our platform. We’re working diligently to neutralize these risks now.”
Chakrabarti’s statements are part of a push by Facebook to reboot its badly dented image. Last week, Facebook said it would let users “rank” the trustworthiness of news sources to help stanch the flow of false news.
“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, Director of Global Politics and Government Outreach.
Facebook faces global rage and scrutiny for facilitating the spread of fake news. It concluded that Russian actors created 80,000 posts that reached around 126 million people in the United States over a two-year period.
“It’s abhorrent to us that a nation-state used our platform to wage a cyberwar intended to divide society,” said Chakrabarti.
“This was a new kind of threat that we couldn’t easily predict, but we should have done better. Now we’re making up for lost time,” he said.
Facebook’s last year promised to identify the backers of political advertisements.
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