Breaking News

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said giving people a voice is 'extremely valuable' despite the near-term 'tension,' following a report the company ignored evidence of its polarizing effects (FB)

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg
  • Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook can contribute to "tension" in society but the benefits it offers in "giving people a voice" makes it worth it.
  • The 36-year-old CEO made the remarks at Facebook's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
  • They come a day after The Wall Street Journal published a report alleging Facebook had found in internal research that its algorithms could build "divisiveness" but ignored it.
  • Facebook has historically denied that it contributes to political polarisation or "filter bubbles."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the social network's policies on speech, even if they lead to societal "tension," a day after a report alleged that the company ignored internal reports that its systems were contributing to political polarisation.
On Wednesday, during Facebook's annual shareholder meeting, the 36-year-old billionaire chief executive was asked about allegations of "censorship" on social media. He responded by defending Facebook's stated mission of "giving people a voice" as beneficial to society — even if it contributes to long periods of civil unrest.
"I think there's a lot of history that would suggest that giving more people a voice to say what they think, even if it's impolite in a lot of cases, or can be challenging to people, I think a lot of that also ends up being very productive and important for society, even if it ends up creating more tension in the near term," Zuckerberg said.
"And the near term in the case of history can drag out for years, whole periods. But I do think over the long term, this freedom and giving people a voice is extremely valuable."
On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal published an investigation into how internal research produced by Facebook employees indicated that Facebook's software was helping contribute to "divisiveness" and pushing people apart politically — and that the company ultimately shrugged the findings off.
In this context, Zuckerberg's comments represent an acknowledgement from Facebook's management that it (and other social media services) can indeed drive divisiveness — but that the purported benefits that go along with that outweigh the problems it causes.
For years, Facebook has disputed that its service contributes to "filter bubbles" — a term referring to how people can surround themselves only with people and sources of information that they agree with, reinforcing their beliefs and driving them apart from others who think differently. In 2019, for example, COO Sheryl Sandberg said that Facebook could help widen people's perspectives: "The people who use social media see much more broad points of view."
But The Wall Street Journal found that in 2018, researchers at Facebook warned the company's leadership in a presentation that the social network's algorithms could fuel polarization. They wrote: "Our algorithms exploit the human brain's attraction to divisiveness ... If left unchecked," the algorithms would show "more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform."
Similarly, a 2016 presentation reportedly warned that "64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools ... Our recommendation systems grow the problem."
Facebook also published a response to the WSJ's report on its company blog on Wednesday, in which VP of Integrity Guy Rosen wrote: "The piece uses a couple of isolated initiatives we decided against as evidence that we don't care about the underlying issues — and it ignored the significant efforts we did make. The piece disregarded how our research, and research we continue to commission, informed dozens of other changes and new products. It also ignored other measures we've taken to fight polarization. As a result, readers were left with the impression we are ignoring an issue that in fact we have invested heavily in."
Contact Business Insider reporter Rob Price via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 650-636-6268), encrypted email (robaeprice@protonmail.com), standard email (rprice@businessinsider.com), Telegram/Wickr/WeChat (robaeprice), or Twitter DM (@robaeprice). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by standard email only, please.
SEE ALSO: Facebook is about to hold its annual shareholder meeting, but there's only one shareholder who matters: Mark Zuckerberg
Join the conversation about this story »
NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid


* This article was originally published here Press Release Distribution

Source - https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-zuckerberg-shareholder-vote-board-chair-position-2020-5

No comments