Facebook Enables 'Fake News'

Another former Facebook executive has spoken out against the company’s current business practices, arguing that they directly enable electoral interference.

Dipayan Ghosh, (pictured) once a privacy and public policy advisor for the social network, argues now that disinformation of the sort used to interfere in the US election and the EU referendum is strongly linked to the nature of Facebook as an advertising platform.

“Political disinformation succeeds because it follows the structural logic, benefits from the products and perfects the strategies of the broader digital advertising market,” Ghosh and his co-author Ben Scott wrote in a report, Digital Deceit, published by the New America foundation.

Ghosh left Facebook in 2017, shortly after the US general election raised troubling questions for him about the relationship between the company and disinformation. In the new report, he and Scott argue that attempts to put a lid on the practice with tweaks to the platform are doomed to failure while the basic business model of a social network is advertising-driven, algorithmically-run and attention-focused.

“The central problem of disinformation corrupting American political culture is not Russian spies or a particular social media platform,” they write. “The central problem is that the entire industry is built to leverage sophisticated technology to aggregate user attention and sell advertising. 
“There is an alignment of interests between advertisers and the platforms. And disinformation operators are typically indistinguishable from any other advertiser. Any viable policy solutions must start here.”

The report makes a number of recommendations, including an updated set of regulations designed to support privacy, particularly when it comes to politically-motivated demographic profiling. But perhaps the most promising for many social network users is a simpler one: switching news feeds back to simple chronological listing.

Despite the recommendations, Ghosh doesn’t go as far as other outspoken former Facebookers, such as Sean Parker and Chamath Palihapitiya, in arguing that social networking is an overall negative for society.

“My feeling about the industry and about social media is that it’s a connector,” he told tech news site the Verge. “It brings access to people, not just access to social media, but access to the Internet, to people in all corners of the world. I think on the whole it is a positive. And these are fundamental flaws that just need to be addressed.”

Guardian

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