Inside Facebook’s Global Constitutional Convention

by Navneet Alang

Everybody gets criticized — especially in the social media era. Faced with that flood of negativity, it can be hard to figure out what to listen to, and most of us default to listening to friends or people who know what they’re talking about.

But if friendly, informed criticism is the best sort, then it must have been profoundly uncomfortable in the Facebook offices recently. In a New York Times op-ed this week, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes called for the breakup of the company he helped start, claiming that the company has simply become too big and too powerful and too slow to react to the numerous issues of privacy, misinformation, and extremism on the platform.

Facebook wasn’t happy about it (it claimed breaking up a successful company is the wrong approach) but also knows it has a lot work to do. Late last year, Mark Zuckerberg announced he intended to create a Facebook Oversight Board, a quasi-independent board of non-Facebook employees whose job it would be help with content moderation decisions. Facebook is also looking for feedback on board, partly through some roundtables held around the world with policy experts, one of which I attended this week in Ottawa, Canada. Though it occurred before the publishing of Hughes’ op-ed, it was clear that Facebook is looking to preempt the kind of aggressive government intervention proposed.

What was also clear during the four hour session, however, was just how complicated the issue of moderating what people can post on Facebook is. It’s also seems that the company is serious about the effort. Yet, despite what appears to be a sincere desire on the part of the company to make itself better, more accountable, and more transparent, it was difficult not to wonder if what Hughes and others are calling for isn’t in fact correct — that even if and when Facebook gets better at being responsible, it still isn’t is too big.

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SOURCE: The Week