It’s clear the majority feel Facebook Is having a negative impact on society. So what can we do about it?
I believe in 2004 Zuckerberg genuinely set out to create a global community, but the technology has moved on faster than we could have ever imagined. Looking to the future, it is clear Facebook, and other networking platforms, will have a role in shaping our society – this is an inevitable given.
If we want change, then we need to take action:
Facebook needs to operate ethically and transparently. Facebook is a trailblazer, a first. Trial and error are part of any Silicon Valley start-up, and although Zuckerberg has apologised for past wrong doings that he may have not foreseen, he needs to put these values at the core of his business operation and personify them. This is the only way he will rebuild trust in his users.
Politicians need to catch up, quickly, with policies suited to support our modern world. The immediate focus should be allocating resource to help monitor content that is uploaded to the platform, and this needs to be done at a global level. The press has recently started to shed light on the reality of what being a Facebook content moderator entails, and it is shocking. In my opinion, monitoring terrorist groups, hate content and fake news on this scale overlaps with the remit of many governments and should not be the sole responsibility of any business. The UK has recently published the ‘Online Harms White Paper’ which states their intention to establish a new statutory duty of care to hold companies accountable and an independent content regulation committee. Although the objective is positive, the proposal currently lacks a thought through framework and process to action change anytime soon.
Another example of change that is needed at the policy level is the psychological impact of addictive social networking platforms. Dopamine boots have us hooked on technology to the point that Black Mirror predictions are quickly becoming our reality. This was not discussed at this event, but I know I am amongst many who feel passionately about this topic. Is the government going to take any steps to proactively manage the inevitable long-term impact Facebook and other platforms will have on future generations?
Individuals, brands and news publishers need to be accountable for the content they post and be conscious of how they are using the technology. The platform has made it possible to connect the world, but what we are saying on it is up to us. It is also up to us how often we engage with the platform. Try challenging yourself on when to engage and when to be present in the real world (e.g. please do NOT fall guilty of doing the Zombie shuffle with your head in your phone whilst walking on public sidewalks and crowded tube stations!)
With great power, comes great responsibility. The question is not forgiving Zuckerberg and giving him the benefit of the doubt. If we want Facebook to return to the good ol’ days where the pros outweigh the cons, working together is the only way forward. This, and this alone will ensure that time on Facebook is truly time well spent.