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NYT: ‘Inside Facebook’s Secret Rulebook for Global Political Speech’

Max Fisher, reporting for The New York Times:

Every other Tuesday morning, several dozen Facebook employees gather over breakfast to come up with the rules, hashing out what the site’s two billion users should be allowed to say. The guidelines that emerge from these meetings are sent out to 7,500-plus moderators around the world. (After publication of this article, Facebook said it had increased that number to around 15,000.)

The closely held rules are extensive, and they make the company a far more powerful arbiter of global speech than has been publicly recognized or acknowledged by the company itself, The New York Times has found.

The Times was provided with more than 1,400 pages from the rulebooks by an employee who said he feared that the company was exercising too much power, with too little oversight — and making too many mistakes.

An examination of the files revealed numerous gaps, biases and outright errors. As Facebook employees grope for the right answers, they have allowed extremist language to flourish in some countries while censoring mainstream speech in others.

Are there Facebook apologists remaining? It’s very clear that Facebook’s top priority was and remains growth at all costs. The side effects of what they’ve enabled — allowing formerly fringe hate groups to gather, organize, and fuel each others’ hatred, forming effective like-minded communities — should have been obvious all along. No one forced them to scale their platform worldwide faster than they could police it. They chose to do so for profit. It’s clear they have almost no control over it.

Facebook is, in my opinion, the most dangerous company in the world, and ought to be broken up and then severely regulated. Again I say, Facebook is to privacy and civil discourse what Enron was to accounting.

Friday, 28 December 2018