On Tuesday, at a hearing in the US Congress, it was not necessary for Francis Hogan, the former CEO of Facebook social networking site, convincing lawmakers that the company has a big problem. Republicans and Democrats united on her side, for once, even calling her “the hero” at several points. What they needed was guidance. Fortunately, Haugen gave it to him.
Throughout the hearing, Haugen used the term “settlement-based classification” to group the complexities of problems Facebook social networking site In one neutral term. Lawmakers tried to say it themselves. Senator John Thune said: “We have learned … that Facebook operates what is called ‘ranking based on engagement’.
The Republican was right. Facebook’s success as a business is due to the algorithms that put the most motivating content at the head of the users’ content stream.
These formulas are fundamental to Facebook’s success in attracting users, but also to Spreading conspiracy theories on the site and luring teens into turmoil on Instagram. In a strong moment, Haugen said that in a few years, there will be women with osteoporosis and infertility due to Facebook’s algorithms.
As a witness, radiate credibility: he has avoided personal attacks on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or controversial issues around free speech; confessed when he had no answer; Clear language was used.
What was most devastating to Facebook was that the quiet testimonial began to sound like an intrusion. Haugen said Facebook was hiding its problems, “and as people often do when they can hide their problems, it hides its head.” Congress needed to step in and say, “We can figure out how to fix this“.
Previous Facebook scandals led lawmakers in different directions — for example, they confronted Zuckerberg about who was actually being censored — and ultimately led to inaction. But their unified support and understanding now marks a turning point.
So here are four things Congress can make consistent in the Haugen directive:
Facebook should stop or significantly reduce its algorithms
Get rid of the addictive stuff that keeps people coming back to Facebook and Instagram. Hogan’s alternative is “chronological classification with little spam degradation”. This means going back to what Facebook was in the early days, where the stream of content was simply arranged chronologically.
Algorithms could still be used to get rid of spam, although what that meant would be up for debate, but time and people – rather than machines – were the ultimate coordinators of what people saw. This would severely impact Facebook’s earnings, and Zuckerberg may have resisted such a move because of his fiduciary commitment to shareholders. This is why Congress should step in.
Asking Facebook to spend more on moderating content
Haugen says Facebook should not be divided. This would deprive security teams from across the empire of the resources and ability to work together. You will reduce the problem to smaller difficulties.
Instead, she suggests, “social media on a human scale.” according to Facebook’s AI often fails to find a lot of malicious content – people today do a lot of work to detect and stop it. But Facebook is keeping that business out of the way, Because it subcontracts with external service providers.
One solution hypothesized by a recent study by New York University’s Stern School of Business is to double the number of Facebook content moderators to 30,000 and convert many of them into full-time employees.
Create an agency to audit algorithms and Facebook functionality
Haugen’s induction Create a federal regulatory agency that can analyze internal “experiments” using Facebook’s software and share this information with its oversight board. The board already has a system for advising Facebook, but it complained that Facebook was not providing the data needed to make decisions.
A raw internal investigation, such as the one revealed in the Haugen newspaper, could put more weight on its guidelines (or orders from a new agency) to make Facebook sites healthier.
For example, you could order Facebook to raise the level of authorized news sources, as it did after the November elections; Added a feature that requires users to click on a link before sharing something; Or encourage more addicted users to take a break.
Request for periodic release of information to researchers
Facebook should be required to disclose data about what is happening on its site (with adequate privacy protections)Like the posts that are shared the most or the political ads that get the most clicks. Only then will academics outside the company be able to use their systems and report their findings.
None of these ideas are particularly new. This would hurt civil rights and privacy advocates, and the suggestions have so far been met with silence and inaction on the part of politicians. But his work laid a foundation for Haugen’s testimony to finally gain momentum. Lawmakers will want to hear what these groups think of the whistleblower’s ideas, and hopefully when they approach them for comment, they will hear some consensus.
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