By Manny Otiko -IVN
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, is the world’s youngest billionaire and creator of the largest social media company, but life is far from easy for him right now.
Currently, Facebook, which has about 2.3 billion users, about a third of the Earth’s population, is besieged by crises.
Last month when whistleblower Frances Haugen exposed the platform’s problems with issues such as misinformation and privacy, it was just the tip of the iceberg.
“When we live in an information environment that is full of angry, hateful, polarizing content it erodes our civic trust, it erodes our faith in each other, it erodes our ability to want to care for each other, the version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world,” said Haugen in a “60 Minutes” interview.
Here are some of the current problems facing Facebook:
- Misinformation. Misinformation continues to be a huge problem on Facebook. Several politicians, including President Joe Biden and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, have both criticized Facebook for not stopping the spread of Covid misinformation. Many people use Facebook as their primary source of news. However, Facebook is not doing a good job of cracking down on inaccurate information. Social media has the power to amplify bad information quickly. Unfortunately, some people have read misinformation about Covid vaccines on Facebook and decided not to get the immunization. As Biden said, “you’re killing people.” Facebook was also criticized five years ago when it failed to stop Russian Internet trolls from spreading misinformation about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
- Human trafficking. Instagram, owned by Facebook, has a major problem with traffickers using the site to advertise and promote their services. Facebook was criticized for not cracking down on this problem.
- Genocide. Facebook was also criticized for not stopping misinformation used in genocides in countries such as Myanmar. “Members of the Myanmar military were the prime operatives behind a systematic campaign on Facebook that stretched back half a decade and that targeted the country’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority group,” said The New York Times.
- Privacy. Facebook works on a system of monetizing its users’ data. You sign up for the site and get all this functionality, but most people don’t know that Facebook has access to your private information, which it sells to advertisers. That’s its business model. Facebook is free, but you pay with your data which you provide willingly.
Part of Facebook’s problems comes from Zuckerberg himself. Zuckerberg was influenced by Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who was an early investor. Zuckerberg, like Thiel, is a libertarian. That means he believes that he should be left alone to do whatever he wants with his company and money. Unfortunately, when your company affects one-third of the world’s population and can influence elections, governments will become involved.
Currently, Facebook is facing criticism from both the left and the right of the political spectrum. Left-leaning politicians such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have called on the government to regulate Facebook.
Warren has said the company needs to be broken up.
“Today’s big tech companies have too much power – too much power over our economy, our society and our democracy,” said Warren in 2019.
Right-wing politicians have also criticized Facebook for its inordinate power. They’ve also complained about censorship and claimed the company has a liberal bias. However, that last part about liberal bias isn’t true. One of the top-performing pages on the platform belongs to right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro, according to NPR.
However, Facebook angered many conservatives when it booted former President Donald Trump from the platform. Like Twitter, Facebook claimed Trump used their platform to incite violence during Jan. 6. This has led to the rise of several alternative social media sites which promise no regulation, such as Gab, Parler and GETTR.
Facebook seems to anticipate that regulation is coming. So recently, the company changed its name to Meta. Facebook, Instagram and What’s App are now different divisions under the Meta Corporation.