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I am not a fan of Facebook, I am not on Facebook, but don't think the recent criticism is justified.

By Curt_Anderson
October 4, 2021 3:03 pm
Category: Opinion

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I didn't watch "60 Minutes" last night but apparently a former Facebook employee revealed some internal company emails indicating that Facebook places a priority on profits. Shocking...a business wanting to make money!

The complaint in the hour or so of news I heard during breakfast is that Facebook allows hateful, mean, erroneous, misleading and false information to be posted on their site. To make matters worse some people believe and are adversely affected by hateful, mean, erroneous, misleading and false posts.

One of the specific accusations I heard is that Facebook was used by the January 6th insurrectionists to communicate with each other. Facebook and other sites (including this one) liken themselves to a modern-day town square where anybody can get up on a soapbox and express their views. This weekend on our local town square here in Ashland Oregon there were over 100 people protesting Texas's new anti-abortion legislation. Town squares, actual and virtual, are where like-minded people gather and sometimes become motivated. If the resulting protests become violent and/or illegal it's not the fault of the town square.

I don't think the problem is Facebook or any other website but with the less-than-discerning audience. In the actual town squares it was understood that speaker was quite likely a crackpot and not a trusted source of information.

How about little critical thinking from the public? How has it happened that America became populated with gullible rubes who eagerly believe practically anything they read online or hear from someone no matter how ludicrous or how often fact-checkers have discredited the source? Most of this stuff has not only been thoroughly debunked, but it defies logic.

The other day in an NPR interview, a Florida doctor who has many patients that use intravenous drugs, explained how these drug users were refusing to be vaccinated because of false information they read online. One of the frequent reasons for their vaccine refusal was that they had concerns about the rush to make it available and the resulting safety of the vaccine. These are people who are shooting up heroin that comes from god-knows-where!!

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Comments on "I am not a fan of Facebook, I am not on Facebook, but don't think the recent criticism is justified.":

  1. by Donna on October 6, 2021 9:44 am
    "I didn't watch "60 Minutes" last night but apparently a former Facebook employee revealed some internal company emails indicating that Facebook places a priority on profits. Shocking...a business wanting to make money!"

    Not quite. Her criticism is about prioritizing maximizing profits over the public good.

    Why this Facebook scandal is different

    Internal evidence shared by former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen shows Facebook has known — but ignored — the harm it causes.
    Frances Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook’s civic integrity team, shared documents that were the basis of an explosive series of articles in the Wall Street Journal. The reports revealed that the company knew its products can cause meaningful harm — including negatively impacting the mental health of teens — but it still has not made major changes to fix such problems.

    “There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” said Haugen in the 60 Minutes interview on Sunday.

    She also shared new allegations — not previously covered in the WSJ’s extensive reporting — about Facebook allegedly relaxing its standards on misinformation after the 2020 presidential elections, shortly ahead of the January 6 riots at the US Capitol.




    vox.com


  2. by Curt_Anderson on October 6, 2021 10:12 am
    Donna,
    So if a bakery or a bar owner strives to get more customers they should be concerned with the "public good" first? Should there be laws regulating their level of altuism?

    The leaked Facebook probably overstated in a societal dangers. NPR reported that it was more along the lines of a focus group then any sort of scientific poll or carefully controlled study. It was, after all, not meant for public consumption.
    npr.org


  3. by Donna on October 7, 2021 7:17 am
    So if a bakery or a bar owner strives to get more customers they should be concerned with the "public good" first? Should there be laws regulating their level of altuism? - Curt

    If an oil refining company strives to maximize its profits, they should be concerned with the "public good" first? Should there be laws regulating their level of altruism?


  4. by Curt_Anderson on October 7, 2021 8:31 am
    Donna,
    There ARE laws for the benefit of the public good that cover oil refineries, bakeries and bars. There are environmental regulations for oil producers, health codes for eateries and state-mandated closing hours for places that serve alcohol.

    Facebook's "product" is speech. What sort of laws would you have to cover them that would not run a follow up with the First Amendment?




  5. by Donna on October 7, 2021 10:17 am
    I'm not suggesting that there should be a law that forces social media sites to restrict free speech.


  6. by Donna on October 7, 2021 10:22 am
    IMO everyone and every business owner should be more concerned about the public good than their own personal preferences and maximizing profits.


  7. by Donna on October 7, 2021 10:33 am
    Btw, there are local laws restricting free speech as it pertains to business signs, including laws against profanity and laws restricting the size of the sign.


  8. by Indy! on October 7, 2021 10:46 am
    Make Facebook a public utility.


  9. by HatetheSwamp on October 7, 2021 1:37 pm

    Indy, sit down before you read the next line.

    You are advocating Clarence Thomas's exact position.


  10. by Curt_Anderson on October 7, 2021 2:56 pm
    Indy shouldn't be too surprised. I have always noted that the far edges of the political fringes eventually meet and agree with each other.

    The idea that Facebook should be considered a utility is ludicrous. Telephones are much more ubiquitous and useful and they aren't a utility. As I said above, Facebook has no utility for me.



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