Facebook cannot be reformed “We know that we have a lot of work to do.”



This phrase has been repeated by numerous Facebook representatives in response to the #StopHateForProfit (Stop Hate For Profit) campaign for an advertising boycott. The boycott's task was to put pressure on the company to find a way to contain hate speech and misinformation. Several large brands joined the boycott, including Unilever and Verizon, which is why Facebook’s advertising revenue can seriously sink, which is very rare.

The campaign seems to be bearing fruit. On June 26, Facebook announced that it would add appropriate marks to the content on voting and elections, as well as detailing the policy regarding hostile language. The company also added an “info guide” tag for hostile rhetoric from politicians that violates the rules but remains resolved because it is of interest as news. Facebook emphasized that all of these measures are an element of the regular cleaning they conduct. “We know that we have a lot of work to do,” the statement said.

“We Know That We Have A Lot of Work” (let's call it MZCHNPNR) - a key phrase in the time of social networks, which is used by company management whenever a company becomes an object of public discontent.

These seven words perfectly reflect the defensive position Facebook has been in since the 2016 US election. Then it became apparent that the company's tolerance of hateful communities on its platforms turned these platforms into tools for deliberately spreading misinformation and propaganda.

This phrase is both a promise and an evasion of the answer. This is a request for trust, which the company did not deserve: "Give us time, we work to change everything for the better." It is also a way to stop constructive criticism: "Yes, we know that now the measures taken are not enough, but there will be more of them."

How the Deprive Police Financing and Facebook Movement
In the case of Facebook, the most dangerous thing in the phrase MZCHNPNR - is that they are silent about the deep structural defects of the platform. Due to the architecture of the social network - an algorithm in which user engagement is paramount and preference is given to content that causes disagreement and manipulates emotions - large-scale production of more and more unpleasant content cannot stop.

Facebook often uses this massive amount of social media content to justify inaction. “We have made tremendous strides,” Nick Clegg, Facebook spokesperson, told CNN last Sunday. “But, you know, on average, we send 115 billion messages a day through our services, and the vast majority of these messages are positive.”

But Mr. Clegg's argument is at the same time a confession: Facebook is too big to be responsibly managed. There will always be a lot of work to do, because because of the very principle of Facebook, there will always be more hatred than it is physically possible to track. How to reform this? No way.

Few people who know Facebook really believe that Mark Zuckerberg closes the company or loosens his grip on the company's board, which is why such conversations are more of a reflection than a reality.

Recently, my opinion on Facebook has been influenced by two separate movements: the abolition of prisons and the deprivation of police funding. This is about complex political issues, but the premise of these movements is exquisitely simple. The swollen and corrupt institutions that they criticize cannot be reformed. As Mariam Kaba recently wrote in her column about depriving the police of financing for the Times: “We need to change the requirements.”

In order to avoid misunderstandings, I want to clarify that an exact comparison of Facebook with the police or the prison system is impossible. As Mariam Kaba notes, the modern system of police work in the United States has evolved from patrolling slaves. The origin of Facebook is, of course, completely different.

Social networks are harmful to humans
Nevertheless, these movements give us the opportunity to look at Facebook from a new perspective. Despite the tedious discussions about content moderation policies and the constant minor changes to Facebook’s rules, serious problems remain. All signs indicate that the system is not subject to reform.

“Many people hope for a new, humane social network that will save us - a social network that respects privacy or has less intrusive algorithms,” Shiva Vaidhyanatan, a professor of the theory of mass communications at the University of Virginia, told me recently. “But to be honest, what they offer after that is usually no longer a social network.”

In other words, the problem is architecture.

“I think social networks have proven that they are harmful to people. And do not console yourself with the illusions that we can fix or redo what was a bad idea from the very beginning, ”he said.

Ifeoma Ozoma, who took part in the management of public policy and with

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