• Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks people are overly focusing on the “negative” aspects of Facebook’s impact on the world.
  • In a post marking Facebook’s 15th birthday, the 34-year-old billionaire published a post defending the influence of the internet and, by extension, Facebook.
  • Facebook has been beset by constant scandals over the last two years, from spreading hate speech that fueled genocide in Myanmar to its mishandling of user data.
  • But Zuckerberg seems to shrug this off, criticising the notion that people think Facebook “is mostly harmful to society and democracy.”

Mark Zuckerberg is on the offensive.

In a post marking Facebook’s fifteenth birthday published Monday , the billionaire tech CEO argued that people”overly emphasize the negative” consequences of the internet, and criticized the idea that it and by extension Facebook “is mostly harmful to society and democracy.”

The 1,000-word post strikes a defiant tone, defending the impact of the internet as a tool for openness and accountability, and optimistically predicts that “the next 15 years will be about people using their power to remake society in ways that have the potential to be profoundly positive for decades to come.”

And it comes after a bruising two years for Facebook, which has been beset from scandals from mishandling user data to allowing Russian operatives to disseminate propaganda, from hacks affecting tens of millions of users to the social networks’ role in spreading hate speech that fueled genocide in Myanmar.

The 2.32 billion-user social network continues to face intense scrutiny, including its alleged monopoly power, its enabling of right-wing populism, and its role in spreading politically inflammatory disinformation around the world.

READ  YouTube and Facebook are competing for the most star-packed outset, with Oprah, the Obamas, and more.

Zuckerberg frames the intense criticism Facebook has faced as a result as part of a broader societal soul-searching over the internet: “For the last couple of years, most of the discussion has been about new social and ethical issues that these networks raise whether that’s governing content to balance free expression and safety, the principles for protecting privacy in a world where people share so much information, how to improve health and well-being when we’re always connected, and ensuring the integrity of our elections and democratic process.”

And the 34-year-old chief exec appears to try and minimise the criticisms many have had about Facebook’s impact on society, suggesting that critics are just focusing on the negatives and struggling to adapt to change.

“As networks of people replace traditional hierarchies and reshape many institutions in our society from government to business to media to communities and more there is a tendency of some people to lament this change, to overly emphasize the negative, and in some cases to go so far as saying the shift to empowering people in the ways the internet and these networks do is mostly harmful to society and democracy,” he wrote.

He adds: “To the contrary, while any rapid social change creates uncertainty, I believe what we’re seeing is people having more power, and a long term trend reshaping society to be more open and accountable over time. We’re still in the early stages of this transformation and in many ways it is just getting started. “

Despite Zuckerberg’s advocacy of “accountability,” Facebook is remarkably unaccountable by corporate standards. Zuckerberg has majority voting power and is chair of the company board, meaning ultimate authority over the social network ultimately rests with him alone.

READ  WhatsApp's New Audio Picker Feature Rolls Out, Spotted Working on Blocking Forwarded Messages in Groups

Some have been highly critical of Zuckerberg’s message. Anand Giridharadas, an author and columnist, called his argument “madness.”

“Mark Zuckerberg, his company credibly accused of compromising multiple democratic elections and abetting ethnic violence, dismisses criticism as people emphasizing the negative,” he tweeted.

And Alex Hern of The Guardian argued that the CEO was deliberately conflating Facebook and the broader internet . “A big theme in Mark Zuckerberg’s public messaging is pretending ‘Facebook’ and ‘the internet’ are one and the same, and attacking critics of the former by issuing defenses of the latter. He’s done it again today,” he tweeted.

“But if you think, say, pushing all interpersonal communication through a curated newsfeed designed to reward sensationalism is ‘mostly harmful to society’ that’s not really a criticism of “the internet”. It’s a criticism of *Facebook*.”

92 COMMENTS

  1. I think most people forget that FB is a business. Nothing more nothing less. Businesses are in the business of making money. FB is a platform where people to give so much personal information that is golden for advertisers.

  2. With how much social media has become a part of our everyday lives it is easy to focus on just the negative but it helps with a lot as well so I think it balances out.

  3. I think most people forget that FB is a business. Nothing more nothing less. Businesses are in the business of making money. FB is a platform where people to give so much personal information that is golden for advertisers.

  4. There’s a lot of concern for privacy these days so yes there’s good and bad with Facebook but we have to take initiatives with the tools offered to control these things.

  5. I think there are both positive and negative aspects of Facebook. But I think Facebook has lost some of its reputation which it had in the initial years. Nice post and you have done good research.

  6. In 2012 researchers found that people who’d spent more time on FB felt that other people were happier, and that life was less fair. Similarly, a study of hundreds of undergrads found that more time on FB went hand in hand with more feelings of jealousy. And a paper from last year concluded that “people feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook because they feel bad when comparing themselves to others.” However, this new report (on general online social networking, not just FB) found that heavy users are not more stressed than average, but are more aware of other people’s stress.

  7. I have always had a love and hate relationship with Facebook. It has deviated from its original aim which was to connect with people in a good way. Now, it’s full of hateful things but that’s how life is too. Now, I am just viewing the things that I would want to see, the one’s I don’t want are filtered.

  8. Yes Facebook has also bought about a lot of change in how people see themselves as well. In terms of boasting or social acceptance which can have negative consequences.

  9. I think that a lot of what’s on Facebook lately IS negative so it’s hard to look at positive stuff on Facebook – I just scroll on by things I don’t like or care about but not all people do… it’s rough sometimes but that’s the internet I think! ha!

  10. It is so interesting how a simple idea like Facebook has totally revamped our social constructs and the ways we interact and influence each other. It really has increased the individual’s power. This is a conversation-sparking post, great job.

Leave a Reply