… and what caring about people really means.
Mark Zuckerberg has been forced to dodge attacks all month, ever since the Cambridge Analytica fiasco came to light. It only got worse, when proof that Facebook had collected call and message history surfaced, in a typical snowball effect. Tech CEOs didn’t help either – Musk deleted his two major companies’ pages on a whim,while former Whatsapp boss encouraged his followers to #deletefacebook.
Recently, Apple’s Tim Cook joined the club. The CEO haughtily declared he would never be in Zuckerberg’s position. It took a couple of days, but Facebook founder’s comeback arrived via Ezra Klein’s podcast. In the interview, Zuckerberg clears the air and speaks about Facebook’s new strategy, but more importantly, about Cook’s statements.
Quoting Jeff Bezos, Zuck said, “There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less. And at Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use. I don’t think at all that that means that we don’t care about people. To the contrary, I think it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm Syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.”
That was an elegant Poke from Mark’s side. The Facebook CEO didn’t dwell on the subject though, preferring to talk more about the process they’re going through when deciding what content to serve:
“The way that this works today, broadly, is we have panels of hundreds or thousands of people who come in and we show them all the content that their friends and pages who they follow have shared. And we ask them to rank it, and basically say, “What were the most meaningful things that you wish were at the top of feed?” And then we try to design algorithms that just map to what people are actually telling us is meaningful to them. Not what they click on, not what is going to make us the most revenue, but what people actually find meaningful and valuable.”
Of course, the matter of regulations needed to ensure Facebook content was ethical and correct came into discussion.
“Over the long-term, what I’d really like to get to is an independent appeal. So maybe folks at Facebook make the first decision based on the community standards that are outlined, and then people can get a second opinion. You can imagine some sort of structure, almost like a Supreme Court, that is made up of independent folks who don’t work for Facebook, who ultimately make the final judgment call on what should be acceptable speech”, explained Zuckerberg.
We’re curious to see how much of these ideas will actually be put in motion and when. You know what they say: what looks good on paper doesn’t always work.