Facebook: A Clinical Assessment and a Call To Action

Facebook, stoking division for profit

Systemic Therapy for the Facebook problem

Strong Medicine – Publisher Liability

FB is a publisher, and must be legally treated as such. Its content demonstrably affects society, and FB must be held accountable for harm. The world’s legislators can address this with uniform standards, which will protect more vulnerable nations. 

Healthy Diet – Content Reprioritization 

FB’s AI algorithms can be rewritten to select for compelling engagement whose benefits outweigh risk and harm. These include self-discovery and improvement, community enrichment activities, uplifting content that supports social cohesion, entrepreneurial opportunities, and more personal and commercial social networking, whilst logarithmically deprecating divisive content, vetting ‘facts’ and eliminating misinformation. 

Competitive Exercise 

None of the issues raised is directly corrected by breaking up FB (or other social media companies). The issue is not size but power structure, practices and regulation, and unless these are corrected, breakup is likely metastasis by another name. However, acquisitions that violate anti-competitive regulations should be addressed accordingly, and all future acquisitions scrutinized by national and international regulators according to a common global standard. 

Privacy and Data Ownership

Consent must be truly informed, meaning that all companies must have a shorter form in plain-spoken language that anyone with a secondary/high school-level education can read in two minutes or less, with links back to the longer agreement subject by subject. Second, the user must have the right to withdraw their consent for data use at any time and those data be verifiably removed from a company’s servers.  

Conclusion

To remedy the harmful effects of FB and other social media:

Power must be delimited and answerable to independent oversight. This is the linchpin of reform. 

Social media are publishers, and should be accordingly accountable.

Media content cannot be allowed to threaten public safety, undermine elections or harm vulnerable populations. Algorithms must be adjusted accordingly. 

Corporate breakups do not solve disruptive unregulated power. Regulation and accountability do. Anticompetitive behavior should be addressed per routine. 

Privacy must be safeguarded, and user data must be controlled by the user under terms of informed consent, with the power to withdraw that consent at any time, to full effect. 

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Lee Dronick

This morning they asked me to participate in a survey. How much do I trust them, how much they favor one side or another of a social or political issue. I told them exactly how I feel and where they need to improve.

The survey had text box where you could enter comments. It didn’t wrap, it scrolled to the right which is an example of their poor user design. I also let them know about that.

geoduck

A very well done assessment of the pathology that is FB. Zuckerberg’s lack of an ethical compass, as well as any idea of how to run this company got me thinking. What would have happened to Apple if Steve Jobs hadn’t left in the ’80s? He too was hard driving and had very fixed ideas of what he wanted to see Apple become, but also had no training or experience running a multi million dollar company. I don’t think it would have ended well. Similarly I don’t think Zuckerberg running FB will end well, either for him or the company.… Read more »