May 8, 2020 — Facebook is still affected by many of the problems represented in 2010’s “The Social Network,” as well as some new ones, Federal Election Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said in a Slate webinar Thursday.
The event was part of Future Tense’s My Favorite Movie series, which invites scientists, elected officials and thought leaders to choose their favorite movie, watch it with an audience and discuss its relevance in their particular field.
“The Social Network” chronicles the beginnings of Facebook at Harvard when a team of young developers sought to create a virtual network to connect students.
Initially, the idea was limited to Harvard students, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg soon realized its potential, expanding it to surrounding universities and eventually to the public. Today, Facebook membership exceeds 3.8 billion users.
Facebook has experienced a substantial amount of turbulence surrounding data privacy issues, physical and verbal abuse on the website and radical groups organizing on its platform.
However, perhaps one of the most publicized topics concerning the company and the driving force of the movie is the polarizing behavior of its founder, with Zuckerberg being portrayed as mercurial.
While obviously acknowledging that the movie was not a documentary, Weintraub noted several changes to Facebook that its founder likely did not anticipate at the start.
“At the beginning, Zuckerberg didn’t want to have any ads on the platform at all, because he thought that it would take away the cool factor,” she said. “And now it’s become all about the ads.”
The decision to support the site with ads has proven both enormously profitable as well as fraught with controversy about political campaign ad policies.
“It's a business, and it has a business model,” said Weintraub. However, she admitted that the platform has not always operated in the best interest of democracy.
“It was a platform for Russian interference in our election in 2016, and that took me by surprise,” she said. “…The Russians were buying ads in Rubles, and nobody noticed they didn't have any system set up to check for that.”
The platform's response to political concerns has evolved, and Weintraub said that she would like to see additional measures taken to prevent the nefarious use of the website.
“I think one very troubling development in the last few months is authoritarian governments taking advantage of the health crisis to consolidate power [by] claiming to be going after disinformation [and] really going after entities to try and quash dissent…” she said. “[I'm] concerned with the risk to dissent and free speech and people's rights across the globe.”
- Libraries Play an Important Role During the Coronavirus Pandemic, Say FCC Workshop Participants
- Pushes to Privatize USPS Threaten the Oldest Universal Communications Network and Efficiency of Mail-in Ballots
- Microsoft Moves to Buy TikTok, Deepfake Identification Software, Facebook Advertising Growth Unchanged
- Digital Infrastructure Investment: Preview Video
- Breakfast Media Minute: August 3, 2020
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Artificial Intelligence1 month ago
U.S. State Department Employing Artificial Intelligence Against COVID-19 Misinformation
Broadband Roundup1 month ago
Artificial Intelligence Task Force, State Cybersecurity, ADTRAN Offers Rural Funding Guidance
Education1 month ago
A Mix of Resources and Technologies Are Needed to Close the Homework Gap
5G4 weeks ago
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg Describes 5G-to-the-Home Vision, Claiming U.S. Leads in 5G Deployment
Infrastructure1 month ago
Michigan Broadband Cooperative Calls Report Saying Municipal Broadband Has an Unfair Advantage ‘Laughable’
Digital Inclusion1 month ago
‘Disconnection Day’ Looms as a Flouted ‘Keep Americans Connected’ Pledge Expires
House of Representatives1 month ago
Witnesses Blame Social Media Algorithms for Spread of Misinformation
Open Access3 weeks ago
In Danville, Virginia, an Early Adopter of Open Access Seeks to Prove the Business Model