In a ‘New Year’s resolution’ post on Facebook, its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said he wanted the year to be one of ‘self-improvement’ for the social site, but stopped short of announcing clear policy plans.
“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do – whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent,” he said.
“My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we’re successful this year then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory.”
So, what are the ‘important issues’ that need fixing? Looking back over 2017 the main concerns were Facebook’s influence being used for destructive ends, from employees expressing concerns over its effects to political ads and even streaming of live crimes.
Zuckerberg says that the topics he means to address would have to encompass “history, civics, political philosophy, media, government and, of course, technology.”
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple is just one top tech entrepreneur to speak out about social media and the negative impact of technology on our lives. “I don’t believe in overuse [of technology]. I’m not a person that says we’ve achieved success if you’re using it all the time,” he said. “I don’t subscribe to that at all.”
He is not the only one, Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, said last year that he had helped to build “a monster” saying “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
They are just two of many top tech executives who have concerns about the effect of social media on our daily lives.
Chamath Palihapitiya, another former Facebook exec, told a group at Stanford Graduate School of Business that the social network could be “destroying how society works” through “short-term, dopamine-driven, feedback loops.”
Zuckerberg has yet to release a timeline or a roadmap stating how he’s going to address any of these issues. Or, more plainly, which of the social network’s numerous problems he plans to tackle first.
Meanwhile, last December, Conservative MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee accused Facebook of doing virtually ‘no work’ to help a parliamentary investigation into fake news and allegations of Russian interference in British politics.