One of the biggest issues that we face in the modern-age is censorship and privacy online. It is so difficult for social media platforms and websites to figure out where the boundaries are for what is and what is not okay to censor or ban from their website. One common thread between all of the platforms is the intolerance towards anything considered hate speech or insensitive to a specific group of people. The lines get sticky when the platform starts regulating speech based on opinion that is not necessarily offensive. This is where a woman named Frances Haugen steps into the picture.
In the last few months, Haugen has been on a mission to expose Facebook’s corrupt inner-system and the way they run their platform. Before getting into what her stance is and the argument that she is making, we need to preface that this blog is simply just to regurgitate what we have learned and make commentary on the things that have been brought to light or that we have found interesting. This post is not meant to sound preachy or political, rather to provide insight on our opinion and thoughts on the subject.
Now onto the meat of the topic, Haugen stated in an interview with 60 Minutes that “the root of Facebook’s problem is in a change that it made in 2018 to its algorithms, the programming that decides what you see on your feed.” She then goes on to explain that Facebook’s algorithm is set to suggest content that gets the most engagement. The catalyst is that the content that gets the most views and/or likes is content that is polarizing and hateful. She quotes that it is “easier to inspire people to anger.” This is where the issue lies. Facebook has refused to actually change the way their platform runs because in order to keep people engaged and scrolling, they need content that is divisive and controversial.
The worst part of all is that Facebook understands this. They understand what they are doing by allowing and promoting controversial content on their platform. They know fully well that they have made space for division and hate online. To further justify this point, it has been proven that the insurrection on January 6th was planned through Facebook.
Now putting all politics aside, a social media website should not be the place to plan an attack on ANY building, but especially not the US Capitol building. Facebook’s guidelines leave room for malintented individuals to create and plan chaos outside of the computer screen. This branches out to the Facebook-owned company, Instagram.
Instagram is not only “dangerous for teens, it is distinctly worse than other forms of social media.” The app promotes bodily discontent and eating disorder content that is shown to developing young girls.
“13.5% of girls say that Instagram makes thoughts of suicide worse, 17% of teen girls say Instagram makes eating disorders worse.”Morgan Keith, The Insider
What does Facebook as a company have to do with this? Well, their own research data reports that as young women fall deeper into eating disorders and depression, the more content they consume. THIS is the issue. Facebook is not responsible for people’s actions and what they post, but they ARE responsible for regulating content that they KNOW is harming people. However, they choose not to regulate this content because it keeps people on the app and brings in money.
Facebook has been under a lot of heat since Frances Haugen filed a lawsuit against the company. The backlash has been so intense that the company announced that they changed the name to Meta and has been taking major strides to improve and secure their platforms. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction and Facebook will begin taking the appropriate steps to changing their platform to make it safe and reliable for everyone.