Facebook: The Reptilian Anger and Extremist Creation Machine

From The Guardian, “Three horsemen of democracy’s apocalypse”:

Facebook and three other hi-tech behemoths (Amazon, Google and Apple) are taking on roles that once belonged to governments, from cybersecurity to exploring outer space, yet they too are unaccountable.

Their decisions about which demagogues are allowed to communicate with the public and what lies they are allowed to spew have profound consequences for whether democracy or authoritarianism prevails. In January, Mark Zuckerberg apparently deferred to Nick Clegg, former British deputy prime minister, now vice-president of Facebook, on whether to allow Trump back on the platform.

Worst of all, they’re sowing hate. As Frances Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook, revealed this week, Facebook’s algorithm is designed to choose content that will make users angry, because anger generates the most engagement – and user engagement turns into ad dollars. The same is likely true of the algorithms used by Google, Amazon and Apple. Such anger has been ricocheting through our society, generating resentment and division. Yet these firms have so much power that the government has no idea how to control them. How many times do you think Facebook executives testified before Congress in the last four years? Answer: 30. How many laws has Congress enacted to constrain Facebook during that time? Answer: zero.

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