Facebook: Whom Do We Trust?

November 15, 2021

Despite common sense, people continue to trust Facebook for news. Informed people realize that Facebook is not a reliable news source. Social media and communication experts are warning the US government about the dangers. Roll Call delves into the details in, “Facebook Can’t Be Trusted To Stop Spread Of Extremism, Experts Tell Senate.”

Social media and communication experts testified at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. They explained to the US Senate that social media platforms, especially Facebook, are incapable of containing the spread of violent, extremist content. Facebook personalization algorithms recommend extremist content and it becomes an addiction:

“Karen Kornbluh, who directs the Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, described how social media algorithms can quickly lure a user from innocuous political content to instructional videos for forming a militia. ‘This is a national security vulnerability,’ Kornbluh said, giving a small number of content producers the ability to exploit social media algorithms to gain enormous reach.‘Social media goes well beyond providing users tools to connect organically with others,’ she testified. ‘It pulls users into rabbit holes and empowers small numbers of extremist recruiters to engineer algorithmic radicalization.’”

Social media platform companies prioritize profit over societal well-being, because the extremist and polarizing content keeps users’ eyeballs glued to their screens. Experts want the US government to force social media platforms to share their algorithms so they can be studied. Facebook and its brethren argue their algorithms are proprietary technology and poses business risks if made public.

Social media companies know more their users than the public knows about the companies. The experts argue that social media platforms should be more transparent so users can understand how their views are distorted.

Whitney Grace, November 15, 2021


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