Christopher Mims had a piece on this, that Facebook MFWIC Mark Zuckerberg says he’s interested in doing. Mims opened his article with an important question:
So here’s the multibillion-dollar question: is Mr Zuckerberg willing to sacrifice revenue for the well-being of Facebook’s two billion-plus users?
Unfortunately, his piece centered on the potentially addictive nature of Facebook (among other virtual, interactive social media). Important as money is to running a business, and important as addiction is to handle, Mims missed a number of larger questions—which bear on addiction, but not exclusively so.
- making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent Whose definition of “time well spent?” Is Facebook going to dictate that to its users?
- encourage meaningful social interactions Whose definition of “meaningful?” Is Facebook going to dictate that, too?
- push us away from harmful ways of using the service Whose definition of “harmful?” Will Facebook dictate that to users, going beyond the possibly addictive nature to other definitions convenient to Facebook?
- steps include [what] Facebook…believes will reduce engagement on the service, including hiding click bait and fake news Whose definition of “click bait?” Of “fake news?” How will Facebook prove it’s not merely censoring? It already has been exposed as having an unbalanced coterie of “content moderators” who censor what they personally view as unacceptably conservative.
All of this, also, elides Facebook’s well-known lack of concern for user privacy, invading it at will for “business” purposes.