looked at a new plan from Facebook wherein
you’ll be able to use the social media platform as a dating site,
costing you nothing more than a willingness to share your most
intimate information with that trusted, secure keeper of data. But
wait… there’s more! Racking up additional points in the What Could Possibly Go Wrong sweepstakes,
Mark Zuckerberg rolled out yet another new and exciting plan. During
an on-the-record chat with journalists (which was curiously named
OTR, or “Off The Record”) the tech magnate announced that they are
now going to be rating news outlets, both mainstream and new media,
as to their “trustworthiness” and either
promoting or suppressing those sites based on their scores.
homeless man, fearing a wild cat, walks into Governor’s mansion,
then escapes through a window
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday that the company has already
begun to implement a system that ranks news organizations based on
trustworthiness, and promotes or suppresses its content based on
said the company has gathered data on how consumers perceive news
brands by asking them to identify whether they have heard of
various publications, and if they trust them.
put [that data] into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a
suppression, and we’re going to dial up the intensity of that over
time,” he said. “We feel like we have a responsibility to further
[break] down polarization and find common ground.”
went on to say that his company would be investing, “billions
of dollars in a combination of artificial intelligence and tens of
thousands of human moderators to keep both fake news and
deliberate propaganda at bay, especially in elections.” He
then played the hero card by boasting that it would cost them a lot
of money in lost political advertising revenue, but that’s just the
price they’ll have to pay to clean up this dirty, dirty system.
a challenge to even begin wrapping your head around how many alarm
bells should be going off right now. First of all, how will Facebook
be determining the “trustworthy” score of the various news sites?
Will they be diligently going through fact checkers, tallying up one
story after another to determine what percentage on each site passes
the veracity test? Don’t be silly. That would involve a lot of
actual work. No, instead they’re just asking users who are willing
to take a survey what they feel about
the various sites and whether or not they trust them.
can see already how that’s going to work out, right? Trump
supporters are going to review CNN with zero trust and call them
“fake news.” The same will probably be true for the major alphabet
network news programs. Liberals will do the same to Fox, not to
mention conservative-leaning sites like Breitbart, the Washington
Times and the Daily Caller. (And yes, likely Hot Air as well.)
Conservatives will give a thumbs down to MSNBC, Shareblue, Media
Matters, Vox and the rest of their ilk. The only winner in this game
will be the ideological side which gets to submit more survey
responses and the final “score” will mean essentially nothing.
what about that artificial intelligence and “tens of thousands of
human moderators” who will be combing everyone’s Facebook pages to keep fake news and deliberate
propaganda at bay? First of all, AI isn’t that smart yet. And
that means that human moderators will have to be the judges of what
qualifies as fake news or propaganda. But those moderators are going
to bring their own biases and preferences to the table with them.
Somebody is going to get burned (and “suppressed”) and it’s a safe
bet that it will be conservatives, based on Facebook’s recent track
said it before and I’ll say it again. Facebook is basically a giant,
digital corkboard with a lot of fancy tools and toys for community
members to post things on. The manufacturer of the corkboard isn’t
responsible for what random idiots pin to it. Asking them to police
what gets posted and make qualitative judgements about the value of
the content was always going to turn into a disaster. If you want to
hold people accountable for posting fake news or propaganda, let the
community hold the account owners accountable. Asking Zuckerberg to
do it? This way lies madness.