PBS Frontline confronts the Facebook Dilemma

November 19, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: freedom of speech, journalism, news, reporting.

Some people spend hours a day on Facebook; others have never seen it and actively avoid it. Some people have strongly partisan views, one way or another, which may color their view of Facebook.

In my view, it doesn’t matter whether or not you “like” Facebook, or whether you are red or blue or any other political color. There is a problem with Facebook that goes beyond personal preferences and political partisanship. That problem is presented in PBS Frontline‘s excellent two-part presentation on The Facebook Dilemma. I hope that you watched it. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend it.

(As usual, I stay about three weeks behind on most things, and this is typical. The series was aired in late October, and I just got around to watching it this week.)

What the series tells us is that the people who run Facebook do not recognize the problems and are unwilling to make decisions to deal with it. All of the Facebook executives who talked with the Frontline reporters — there were six — essentially said the same thing, often using the same phrases. They were “slow to recognize” the problems that the Russian involvement in the 2016 election caused. They are going to have a “continuing conversation” about what needs to be done.

Most disturbing of all, I think, is that Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive of Facebook, continues to spout an “idealistic” vision for his company — that it can change the world for good — when the purpose of Facebook is not to change the world but to make money for its investors.

Zuckerberg and his cohorts need to grow up — or they need to put an adult in the room — and confront the behemoth that they have created rather cling desperately to a pie-in-the-sky vision.


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