Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to fix the failings of the world’s largest social network as part of a personal challenge for 2018.
Posting on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg pointed to a number of issues he feels must be rectified on the platform, and set himself the task of remedying them by year’s end. “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.
“My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues.”
Between allegations of Russian-purchased ads influencing the 2016 US presidential election, and disclosures by former top executives that the platform is known for damaging to mental health, Facebook has faced plenty of scrutiny in recent times.
During a talk at Stanford University in November last year, former executive Chamath Palihapitiya pointed to the company’s “short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops” that “are destroying how society works.” Palihapitiya added that he felt “tremendous guilt” about his role in the company.
That same month founding president Sean Parker said he is a “conscientious objector” to social media and that Facebook had success by “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” If a user posts content that garners likes, Parker said the founders knew it would “get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you more likes and comments.”
“The inventors, creators – it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people – understood this consciously,” Parker added. “And we did it anyway.”
In his Facebook post, Zuckerberg said that his company currently makes “too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools,” and that he was “looking forward to bringing groups of experts together to discuss and help work through these topics.”