Facebook’s dangerous algorithm

Photo courtesy of Glenn Carrie at Unsplash.com

Facebook started out as a small exclusive website for college students. Now its services are used by billions of people all around the globe.

Facebook is so prolific that in some places it is pretty much the internet. This would be fine if it was actually like the internet. The internet gets away with being largely unregulated because it is completely decentralized and near impossible to control.

However, Facebook decides what you see via an algorithm. They make money by showing viewers advertisements. If they can serve content that will keep you more engaged, they will do that to make money, even if it means spreading lies and hatred.

That is exactly what the whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed. Haugen worked on Civic Integrity, which was a department that was designed to counter misinformation for the Federal Elections of November 2020. After the elections, Facebook decided that they had done enough and dissolved Civic Integrity.

According to Haugen, Facebook had taken steps in the lead up to the elections to reduce misinformation being served by their algorithm. After the election, they turned the safeguards off in order to prioritize growth over democracy.

Facebook needs to be regulated, more transparent and more restrictive. However, they will always be trying to sell more ads as that is their business model. If their business model goes against the very basic values of democracy, ethics and not encouraging genocide, then maybe they should have just left it shut down.

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