Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned to his favorite social media platform today to post a 5,800 treatise that attacks fake news, and supports lowering global barriers — even as President Trump and others call for raising them.
“Facebook stands for bringing us closer together and building a global community,” he says. “When we began, this idea was not controversial….Yet now, across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection.”
As a result, Zuckerberg writes, “the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”
Part of that mission involves widening “the diversity of ideas shared,” even though “the past year has also shown it may fragment our shared sense of reality.” For example, he notes, many withdraw into “filter bubbles” and feed on fake news.
Facebook’s goal, then, is to “help people see a more complete picture.” That can be done by offering people “a range of perspectives, [that] let people see where their views are on a spectrum and come to a conclusion on what they think is right. Over time, our community will identify which sources provide a complete range of perspectives so that content will naturally surface more.”
The company has “made progress fighting hoaxes the way we fight spam, but we have more work to do,” he says. “We are proceeding carefully because there is not always a clear line between hoaxes, satire and opinion. In a free society, it’s important that people have the power to share their opinion, even if others think they’re wrong. Our approach will focus less on banning misinformation, and more on surfacing additional perspectives and information, including that fact checkers dispute an item’s accuracy.”
He hopes to reduce sensationalism, identifiable when people don’t share stories that have eye-catching headlines.
“We recently started reducing sensationalism in News Feed by taking this into account for pieces of content, and going forward signals like this will identify sensational publishers as well,” the CEO says.
Zuckerberg also favors a “strong news industry,” adding that there’s “more we must do…to make sure this vital social function is sustainable — from growing local news, to developing formats best suited to mobile devices, to improving the range of business models news organizations rely on.”
But he disputes the view that platforms including Facebook corrupt public discourse.
Most Facebook conversations “are social, not ideological. They’re friends sharing jokes and families staying in touch across cities. They’re people finding groups, whether they’re new parents raising kids or newly diagnosed patients suffering from a disease together. Sometimes it’s for joy, coming together around religion or sports. And sometimes it’s for survival, like refugees communicating to find a shelter.”
If the platform increases “the diversity of our ideas and [strengthens] our common understanding, our community can have the greatest positive impact on the world.”