By: Matthias Kramer
Are Facebook users addicted to hate?
A one-time associate of Steve Jobs says yes.
Joanna Hoffman, a part of the original Macintosh team at Apple, told attendees at a conference recently that Facebook is “peddling in an addictive drug called anger” and “destroying the very fabric of democracy, destroying the very fabric of human relationships.”
She and others charge that the social media site has done a lousy job of eliminating hateful posts and fake news.
“You know it’s just like tobacco, it’s no different than the opioids,” Hoffman told those attending 2020 CogX, according to CNBC. “We know anger is addictive, we know we can attract people to our platform and get engagement if we get them pissed off enough. So therefore what, we should capitalize on that each and every time?”
Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has been pilloried in recent months – most recently by allowing President Donald Trump’s “when the shooting starts, the looting starts” post.
For his part, Zuckerberg told his critics that he felt “deeply shaken and disgusted by President Trump’s divisive and incendiary rhetoric at a time when our nation so desperately needs unity.”
Scientists from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative made the case in the second week of June that the president’s message might fuel violence. “The spread of news that is not vetted for factual accuracy leads to confusion and a mistrust of experts,” the scientists noted. “We were disconcerted to see that Facebook has not followed their own policies in regards to President Trump, who has used the Facebook platform to spread both misinformation and incendiary statements.”
Their recommendation for Zuckerberg was to tighten controls on what they viewed as incendiary language. Permitting free speech, they argued, could harm “people or groups of people, especially in our current climate that is grappling with racial injustice.”
The company has come under withering criticism also for its ongoing legal troubles and the outsize influence it has on the lives and health of its users and employees. Others point to its influence on the way media, specifically news, is reported and distributed. Notable issues include Internet privacy, such as use of a widespread “like” button on third-party websites tracking users; possible indefinite records of user information; automatic facial recognition software; and its role in the workplace, including employer-employee account disclosure.
While no one can argue with Facebook’s success, “its last decade has also been full of scandals and accusations, ranging from a psychological experiment conducted on 70,000 unconsenting Facebook users which examined how changes in the News Feed could impact their mental health, to claims the social network was censoring content,” according to businessinsider.com.