Can Facebook Find a Soul?

There’s an old joke about a man who sold a mule. The buyer harnessed the mule but no matter what he said or did, the mule wouldn’t go. So, he got the seller and he said, “What gives? You sold me a mule that doesn’t do anything.” The seller didn’t say a word. He picked up a great big board and wacked the mule right between the eyes. Then he said, “Now tell it what you want it to do.” The buyer said go and the mule went. The seller said, “It will do what you tell it to do, you just have to get its attention first.

And so it is with Facebook.

Facebook often features content that damages the nation, its people and their sanity. Here take a look at this article:

Is this not just disgusting? Conspiracy mongering dimwits are spreading the idea that the virus is a hoax but not stopping there they want you to believe that the killing of George Floyd is a staged event to take away their freedoms. And this is just a temporary aspect of Facebook’s continuous flow of online sewage.

Facebook is the go to place for every kind of lie and nonsense. Hate speech clogs it from minute to minute, hour to hour and day by day. But all this hate speech and all this nonsense just serves to get Facebook more hits, more attention, and more money. But that money flow may no longer be that secure.

Here we see – Pepsi stopping its advertising on the platform – Starbucks ending its advertising – and today, Microsoft stopped its advertising on Facebook.

So, have all these advertisers gotten Facebook’s attention and convinced them there is a problem? Yesterday, Facebook agreed to an audit of its hate speech controls. There is supposed to an online announcement to advertisers this morning.

In America, we use the corporate model indiscriminately. We try to run schools, colleges, social services, etc. like some kind of profit making scheme. But it is not always appropriate. In the case of Facebook, there’s nothing wrong with Facebook profiting from running some kinds of ads. But there is a lot wrong with indiscriminate practices in content and advertising.

An online service that provides sharing and commentary has to be regulated. You can’t let Nigeria use it for scams, Russia to disrupt elections and lunatics to smear and subvert.

The corporate model of Facebook has no soul. That’s pretty obvious but is there enough leadership to make the necessary changes?

That we will see.

James Pilant