Mark Zuckerberg's Personal Challenge for 2018 Is Doing His Job

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Mark Zuckerberg wants you to know that he’s not just the guy running a social network that knows way too much about you and has an unbridled misinformation problem. He’s also a guy with a life outside of the machine! Since 2009, Zuckerberg has set out “to learn something new” each year. And today he announced his personal challenge for 2018: better policing his platform.

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“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. “My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we’re successful this year then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory.”

Making sure Facebook is a more enjoyable, safe, and trustworthy platform is a great goal. Though, and just hear me out here, it’s almost as if this should have been a goal since it was founded in 2004. In the past, Zuckerberg’s challenges have included tasks like touring our great country, reading a bunch of books, running a bunch of miles, and learning a new language. It’s hard not to see the humor in his personal goal sounding a lot like his job description. The Facebook CEO announcing his personal challenge is to better moderate his platform is like a blogger proclaiming their personal challenge is to write words and publish them on the internet.

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“This will be a serious year of self-improvement and I’m looking forward to learning from working to fix our issues together,” Zuckerberg wrote in today’s Facebook post.

If this is the year of self-improvement, last year was surely the year of the shitstorm. Facebook struggled to deal with foreign election interference on its platform, an issue that brought the tech giant before Congress in October. It also struggled to handle fake news on its platform, eventually hiring third-party fact-checkers who themselves were skeptical of Facebook’s efforts. The social network also came under fire after reports that it let advertisers exclude users based on race and ethnic groups. It also helped companies only target certain age groups.

So for those who believed 2018 would be better than its hellish predecessor, you can at least look forward to one improvement: Mark doing his job.

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DISCUSSION

misterblonde
Mr. Blonde

The fundamental issue with social networks is that they all can provide a HUGE soapbox for people who previously would have been laughed out of any rational debate.

Under the guise of “free speech”, they have provided a megaphone to many people who are completely undeserving of one. I find it to be an especially irresponsible time concerning the social networks, Twitter and Facebook being the worst offenders. Our goal in society should always be progress, real progress aiming to better the lives of everybody, and to strive for equanimity.

Even scarier is the thought of corporations or countries manipulating these networks with bots and the like, completely upending what these networks are meant to be...at least what they purport to try to be. These networks have an imperative duty to police and control the content that is distributed on their platforms, lest we give in to complete anarchy.

Unfortunately, the bad can overshadow the good things that these platforms can do. The fact is there would be no Dolt 45 without Twitter and Facebook — they are complicit in this. They are giving amplification to voices and ideas that should be shunned, but instead provide a false sheen of legitimacy through sheer repetition. Repeat a falsehood enough and people will start to believe it, “legitimate” media will cover it, and it starts to become normal.

One can hope that this is just a nascent stage that we’re at, and we will come up with better solutions, but I’m none too encouraged at the moment.