donderdag 10 januari 2019


The central conclusion from the documentary the Facebook Dilemma, that was recently broad-casted on TV, is that Facebook was too late and too slow in handling fake news, hate speech and fake accounts, manipulation and social conflict. It is interesting to see how Mark Zuckerburg defends his company by saying that Facebook is a tech company aiming at bringing people together. As a tech company Facebook/Zuckerburg pretends that tech tools will deliver the solutions for all, social and political, problems created by Facebook. The parallel with the movie about the creation of Facebook-The Social Network- is obvious. In that movie Zuckerberg, then a clumsy geek at Havard, created a computer program  for rating female students, hacking the database of the university. Perhaps compensating his own lack of social skills to get in touch with female students.

Media Company
The problem is that Facebook is not a tech company but a media company. Controlling the flow of news and information on Facebook is only possible by understanding the role of media in a democracy. At traditional media this role is in the hands of editors who check and filter the news before it is published. Facebook still not admitting they are media, hired thousands of censors checking the flow of information based on key words. Probably in the end aiming at complete automation by algorithm. I don't believe this will work for more than 2,5 billion users on world scale. Is too large and the social and political problems in all corners of the world are too complicated to handle by keyword searching censors. The best solution would be to break up Facebook in different sub-media for example by regions or by topic and in these sub-media the editors play a central role.
Secondly if Facebook acknowledges that they are a media company then they would be controlled by media law and can be hold responsible for publication. Now they escape this type responsibility and control by rules of freedom of speech.
The problems related to the content of Facebook, originate in the business model of Facebook and the design of internet. 

In exchange for their personal data, Facebook offers a free service connecting and communicating with others. Zuckerberg declared that Facebook sells advertisement. More page views are resulting in better chances for advertising; exactly by creating debate and firing up social conflict the page views go sky high. So the advertisement algorithm promotes exactly the opposite from what the censors trying to prevent. At traditional media the newsroom, controlling the content of for example the newspaper, is relatively independent from the commercial, advertising, department. Again if Facebook becomes a medium, then it needs to recognizes the independence of the content/newsroom from commercial interest.

The Facebook dilemma between content and advertising derives directly from the design of the internet. User data are exchanged for use of free services, Google search, mail, social networks and webshops. They all collect data for micro advertising, targeted to individuals or small well defined groups. The internet is constructed as an open network, with no guaranties for privacy of the user. And secondly there are no rules for the handling of privacy related data by the tech companies, only the EU has recently launched its General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR)They will continue to use your data although you have canceled the service; or they could sell your data to other companies for advertising of campaigning.


So ultimate solutions for the privacy problems consist in repairing the internet.  Three different approaches:
- the Chinese option, building complete control over the internet by the government; from the western perspective this medicine is worse than the disease; in fact the whole idea of privacy is becoming obsolete;
- creating more privacy laws using the EU directives as starting points;
- and finally building privacy in the internet itself; repairing the broken internet, Blockstack for example uses block-chain technology in Dapps(decentralized apps)  to control user data; and Tim Berners-Lee working in the same direction with Solid from Inrupt.
These are interesting initiatives but compared the power, financial and market power of the tech companies, they will stay small, unless the power of the silicon giants can be broking. Then we are entering the area of anti trust regulation and repairing tax evasion.
The most simple solution is vote with your feed and delete your Facebook account.


Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie posten

Opmerking: Alleen leden van deze blog kunnen een reactie posten.