Make no mistake about it: Facebook is inherently a part of our world.
If you don’t have a Facebook account, chances are you know someone who does. If you don’t know what Facebook does, chances are you’ve heard about them in the news. But if you’re on that platform, you may be keenly aware of its bombardment of content, coming at you relentlessly. Content moves so quickly and pervasively — as much as life itself often does — it’s hard to discern between fact and fiction on that platform.
Remember the video circulating around Facebook of a “drunk” House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)? The doctored video was circulated over a million times before public outcry forced a reluctant Facebook to “fact-check” it. But Facebook didn’t remove the video. Pelosi responded to Facebook’s refusal to refuse the video, telling California’s KQED, “I think they have proven — by not taking down something they know is false — that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election.”
And this is true. In 2017, Facebook revealed to Congress that Russian agents disseminated deceptive, inflammatory and false content that reached approximately 126 million users on Facebook. Congressional records show Facebook was reluctant to come forward with that information, initially downplaying influence by the Russian government. Then one year later in 2018, we learned Facebook was warned of Russian meddling as early as 2014.
Now Facebook has made it difficult to track that sort of activity. Facebook recently disabled advanced “graph” search features that effectively track purveyors of misinformation in addition to catching war criminals and child predators. This move has stymied the efforts of law enforcement and investigative journalists.
Fortunately, one of Facebook’s former investors have taken notice.
Last month, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes wrote a nearly 6,000-word New York Times op-ed, calling out platform CEO Mark Zuckerberg and their growing monopoly on content. Calling Zuckerberg’s power over Facebook “unprecedented and un-American,” Hughes wrote it was time to break up Facebook.
Not only do they stifle competition and innovation, Facebook also stifles the way users learn about the…