Zuckerberg needs to face the facts

Ben Borrok, Staff Writer

Mark Zuckerberg has a responsibility to protect the users of Facebook from bots, fake news, and data misuse; all of this has been well documented by the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

This past week the United Kingdom, Canada, Argentina, Australia and Ireland all called upon Mark Zuckerberg to testify on elections violations and the proliferation of fake news. For years, Facebook has been using the same data harvesting methods used for advertisements to deliver us political information. Elizabeth Denham, Britain’s Information Commissioner, has called this technique “a threat to democracy.” Through the months leading up to the 2016 election, the fake news epidemic saw misinformation rapidly spread throughout the platform. And with no regulation of sources and no oversight to determine which were reliable, many Americans were misled on one of the most controversial elections in modern American history. Facebook also has not kept tabs on developers and other compatible apps that have used the network’s data, many of whom have retained the private information of millions of users.

In response to the request from these five nations, Zuckerberg has remained silent, opting to let Facebook’s lawyers release a weak statement on his behalf. It seems as if Zuckerberg is refusing to recognize the deterioration of his social network. The website that started as a way to connect with his Harvard classmates has now become a internet monster, serving the agendas of corporations, interest groups, and, most recently, entities hell-bent on undermining the sanctity of the American political system. Zuckerberg and other Facebook officials must recognize that they are in uncharted territory when it comes to user data; they now have a moral, as well as legal, responsibility to protect their consumers.

Instead, Facebook has continued in its crooked ways, only making minimum changes to aid the damages of the scandals. Its reputation has come to be known for its usage by older generations, as many younger Americans opt for Twitter or Reddit to learn about world news and global trends. It is evident that Facebook’s users are not educated on how to properly vet news sources, and thus they are easily susceptible to fake ones. Unless Facebook can restore some sort of order to who can and cannot spread news, they will never repair their current image.

The first step that Facebook can take would be to speak in front of these governments and follow through on promises to protect users. The social network has potential to be a constant positive force on the internet, but only if Zuckerberg has his priorities in order. Will he choose to be an ally to the common internet user, or will he continue to use our data and political situations for profit?

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