Top Facebook Executive Discusses Changes to Platform, Defends Social Network's Image

Ten years ago Facebook was the social media platform of choice for the vast majority of people on the internet, but all of that started to change over the years. If you were to ask someone or the other what they thought of Facebook now, there is a pretty good chance that their response would be rather negative. Facebook has been accused of promoting hate speech, or at the very least not trying hard enough to stifle it, and the platform’s role in the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories only became more prominent in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Needless to say, this has wreaked havoc with Facebook’s viability for the future. While people definitely still use the platform, there is a growing movement that is calling for an end to Facebook’s supremacy and new competitors are popping up each and every day. One is reminded of the downfall of Yahoo after the company decided to rest on its laurels and refused to innovate which resulted in Google becoming far more popular than it ever could be. Yahoo is now barely ever mentioned in the world of tech even though the company was well established when Google first came around, so there is a lesson that Facebook can end up learning here.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president in charge of global affairs, published a blog on Medium which talked about the company’s efforts to give users more control, and in a recent sit down discussion with The Verge Clegg defended the company’s reputation. According to Clegg, Facebook does not incentivize the creation of outrageous or provocative content, but this is just another example of how disconnected Facebook executives seem to be from the world around him because taking just one look at an average Facebook newsfeed or timeline would show that provocative content tends to be all that users get suggested at any given point in time.

Clegg also discussed changes that would allow users to make the algorithm work for them by choosing to ignore content that was being suggested as well as changing up how the algorithm would respond to them on their own terms. While this sounds good in theory, it has yet to be seen actually implemented on the platform so most users are going to have to wait before they can tell whether or not they will be given the social media experience that Facebook has been promising them for such a long time.

The gist of Clegg’s arguments in favor of his employer was the suggestion that allowing polarizing content was against Facebook’s interests. According to Clegg, advertisers would not want their brands mentioned alongside such questionable content, but the fact remains that most Facebook users get exposed to sensationalized propaganda as well as hateful content on a regular basis.

It is doubtful that Clegg’s attempts would be successful at persuading the general public that Facebook is in any way a super ethical company. Quite on the contrary, it might just contribute towards cementing Facebook’s reputation as a company that is only interested in band-aid solutions probably because of the fact that the company profits from the status quo and would therefore not be willing to change it.

Photo by Hakan Nural/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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