Zuckerberg’s Preposterous Defense of Facebook

Are you bothered by fake news, systematic misinformation campaigns and Facebook “dark posts” — micro-targeted ads not visible to the public — aimed at African-Americans to discourage them from voting? You must be one of those people “upset about ideas” you disagree with.

Are you troubled when agents of a foreign power pose online as American Muslims and post incendiary content that right-wing commentators can cite as evidence that all American Muslims are sympathizers of terrorist groups like the Islamic State? Sounds like you can’t handle a healthy debate.

Does it bother you that Russian actors bought advertisements aimed at swing states to sow political discord during the 2016 presidential campaign, and that it took eight months after the election to uncover any of this? Well, the marketplace of ideas isn’t for everyone.

.. bias in the digital sphere is structurally different from that in mass media, and a lot more complicated than what programmers believe.

.. what matters most is not the political beliefs of the employees but the structures, algorithms and incentives they set up, as well as what oversight, if any, they employ to guard against deception, misinformation and illegitimate meddling.

.. by design, business model and algorithm, Facebook has made it easy for it to be weaponized to spread misinformation and fraudulent content.

.. this business model is also lucrative, especially during elections. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, called the 2016 election “a big deal in terms of ad spend” for the company

.. Facebook responds to such pressure as much of the traditional media do: by caving and hiding behind flimsy “there are two sides to everything” arguments.

.. Even the conservative pundit and wild-eyed conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck, of all people, has expressed befuddlement at the charge that Facebook censored conservative content.

.. He has correctly pointed out that Facebook had been a boon for right-wing groups, especially of the alt-right and Breitbart variety