Charlie Warzel, writing for The New York Times:
Facebook’s long-awaited civil rights audit is now public and it
isn’t flattering. The 100-plus-page report laid bare many of
the issues facing the platform — that Facebook does not fully
understand how its algorithms drive hate, that anti-Muslim speech
is “rampant,” that Facebook’s reforms never fix the problem — and
warned the company may be “driving people toward self-reinforcing
echo chambers of extremism.”
Warzel interviewed Rashad Robinson, the head of the civil rights group Color of Change, who met with Mark Zuckerberg regarding the audit and its conclusions:
Warzel: You met with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook over Zoom on
Tuesday and told my Times colleagues, “They showed up to the
meeting expecting an A for attendance. Attending alone is not
enough.” Do you think Facebook actually understands this problem?
Robinson: It’s so frustrating. We are doing a lot of work for
a multibillion-dollar company and it’s just always dispiriting we
have to do this for them because they won’t do it for themselves.
Mark was talking about how much hate they’re catching and throwing
this number out: 89 percent [that the company catches 89
percent of hate speech before it is reported by users]. And I
was like, “Come on. Even I see this stuff on my feed and my
algorithms are pretty trained around progressive stuff.” And I
tell you that to say that what they’re doing is gaslighting.
You’re in these meetings and you’re listening to them explain
their rationale and thinking, “Nope, that’s not how this works.”
And you’re left with this choice: Do I argue with the very premise
that they don’t seem to understand the actual problem of their
platform? Or do I argue with the number — that catching only 89
percent of hate isn’t something to be happy with?
Robinson speaks with clarity and concision. His criticisms of Facebook are clear, bracing, and obviously true.
★ Monday, 13 July 2020