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Silicon Valley

Facebook admits that the internet can be bad for democracy

January 22, 2018

The company now says social media may hurt civic discourse, but it promises to do its “moral duty” by understanding how to mitigate such problems.

What it says: Of the thousands of words published in a pair of new essays on the topic, the choicest cut comes from Facebook’s product manager for civic engagement, Samidh Chakrabarti:

If there’s one fundamental truth about social media’s impact on democracy it’s that it amplifies human intent— both good and bad.I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t.

Why it matters: It’s another sign, along with a commitment to build a “more meaningful” social network, that Facebook is responding to criticism about fake news, Russian meddling, and addictive content.

Now what? Chakrabarti says the company has a “moral duty to understand how [its] technologies are being used and what can be done to make … Facebook as representative, civil and trustworthy as possible.”

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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