Facebook Lets Group Admins Designate Experts. Okay!

August 2, 2021

Facebook once again enlists the aid of humans to impede the spread of misinformation, only this time it has found a way to avoid paying anyone for the service. Tech Times reports, “Facebook Adds Feature to Let Admin in Groups Chose ‘Experts’ to Curb Misinformation.” The move also has the handy benefit of shifting responsibility for bad info away from the company. We wonder—what happened to that smart Facebook software? The article does not say. Citing an article from Business Insider, writer Alec G. does tell us:

“The people who run the communities on Facebook now have the authority to promote individuals within its group to gain the title of ‘expert.’ Then, the individuals dubbed as experts can be the voices of which the public can then base their questions and concerns. This is to prevent misinformation plaguing online communities for a while now.”

But will leaving the designation of “expert” up to admins make the problem worse instead of better? The write-up continues:

“The social platform now empowers specific individuals inside groups who are devoted to solely spreading misinformation-related topics. The ‘Stop the Steal’ group, for example, was created in November 2020 with over 365,000 members. They were convinced that the election for the presidency was a fraud. If Facebook didn’t remove the group two days later, it would continue to have negative effects. Facebook explained that the organization talked about ‘the delegitimization of the election process,’ and called for violence, as reported by the BBC. Even before that, other groups within Facebook promoted violence and calls to action that would harm the civility of the governments.”

Very true. We are reminded of the company’s outsourced Oversight Board created in 2018, a similar shift-the-blame approach that has not worked out so well. Facebook’s continued efforts to transfer responsibility for bad content to others fail to shield it from blame. They also do little to solve the problem and may even make it worse. Perhaps it is time for a different (real) solution.

Cynthia Murrell, August 2, 2021

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