Facebook has become an incredibly influential platform. News can travel like wildfire over social media as the human tendency to gossip is amplified through the megaphone of thousands of connections linked to thousands more people. In order to ensure that content moderation issues are dealt with fairly, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced that a new group will be formed outside the company to deal with these challenges.
In a Facebook note Zuckerberg said that independence was critical in order to prevent the concentration of too much decision-making within the company, to create accountability and oversight, and to ensure decisions are made in the best interests of our community and not for commercial reasons.
"An important question we face is how to balance the ideal of giving everyone a voice with the realities of keeping people safe and bringing people together. What should be the limits to what people can express? What content should be distributed and what should be blocked? Who should decide these policies and make enforcement decisions? Who should hold those people accountable?," said Zuckerberg.
From its roots as a way to connect students across US colleges, Facebook has grown at a rapid rate. Anyone who has worked in a fast growing company knows that governance often follows growth. The problem for Facebook has been that the growth has continued with very little focus on governance. So it is way behind the eight-ball now.
Zuckerberg's note goes into some detail about what this new group will do. It will have a focus on community standards, identifying harmful content, discouraging "borderline" content, giving people control, addressing algorithmic bias and creating transparency and enabling research.
Colour me sceptical but it seems like the apparatus for Big Brother is being assembled before our eyes. I reminds me of the scene in Revenge of the Sith where The Imperial Senate elects Palpatine and Amidala says "“So this is how liberty dies - with thunderous applause.”