In a nearly 2,000-word blog post sent to Poynter on Wednesday, Facebook announced a slew of new things it’s doing to combat false news stories, images and videos.
Whether he likes it or not, Mark Zuckerberg has discovered that he is responsible to some extent for the malicious and ugly content that flows through Facebook, and for the personal information that users carelessly leave behind. A series of missteps have transformed him from high-tech hero to high-tech villain. But now I see he has learned another lesson: government regulation may not be the problem; it may be the solution.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos that he’s open to having Facebook regulated but there are limits to what the company can do to limit harmful political posts on its networks. As to the role Facebook played in the 2016 election and other cases where forces from within and without the U.S. managed to weaponize the platform, the executive conceded, “We need new rules” around political advertising.
The social media giant and search engine now account for 70% of the $60 billion spent on digital advertising in 2018, says a new Borrell report, with Facebook leading the way. “Those expecting the social media juggernaut to collapse due to data breaches, fake news, and reports of click fraud may have more hope than reality in their expectations.”
The changes to Facebook’s advertising methods —which generate most of the company’s enormous profits — are unprecedented. The social network says it will no longer allow housing, employment or credit ads that target people by age, gender or ZIP code. Facebook will also limit other targeting options so these ads don’t exclude people on the basis of race, ethnicity and other legally protected categories in the U.S., including national origin and sexual orientation.
Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world’s largest technology companies, intensifying scrutiny of the social media giant’s business practices as it seeks to rebound from a year of scandal and setbacks.
Instead of just being the network that connects everyone, Facebook wants to encourage small numbers of individuals to carry on encrypted conversations that neither Facebook nor any other outsider can read. It also plans to let messages automatically disappear, a feature pioneered by its rival Snapchat that could limit the risks posed by a trail of social media posts that follow people throughout their lives.