Nowhere has this change been more pronounced than at Facebook, the company for many years envisioned itself as a sort of post-human communication platform. Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, often talks about the “frictionless” design philosophy – making things as easy as possible for the user. The other executives I’ve talked to seem to believe Facebook will eventually become a sort of autonomous machine, with artificial intelligence doing the most dirty work and the least human intervention there. can.
But in the election before the 2020 election, Facebook went the opposite direction. It lays out a new, cumbersome approval process for political advertisers and blocks new political ads for the period following Election Day. It suppresses false claims and provides a “propagating circuit breaker”; so the validator has time to evaluate suspicious stories. And it temporarily turns off its recommended algorithm for some kind of privacy group, to reduce the likelihood of violence. (On Thursday, The New York Times reported that the company is taking other interim measures to reduce election-related misinformation, including adding friction to the post-sharing process. to post.)
In fact, all of these changes could make Facebook more secure. But they also involve redialing the very features that drove the platform’s growth over the years. It was a significant act of self-awareness, as if Ferrari realized they could only prevent their cars from crashing by replacing their engines with go-kart engines.
“If you look at Facebook’s electoral response, it’s basically about pointing out a lot of traffic and attention to the people-run hubs,” says Eli Pariser, an activist and authoritative officer. Longtime media practitioners are working for Civic Signals, a new project that says it’s trying to reimagine social media as a public space. “It’s a sign that in the end, when you have truly important information, there’s no substitute for human judgment.”
Twitter, another platform for years that has been trying to make communication as easy as possible, has spent most of the past four years trying to improve the system. It brings in more moderators, modifies its rules, and puts more human oversight on features like Trending Topic. In the months leading up to the election, it banned political ads and disabled sharing features on tweets containing false information about election results, including some from the presidential account.