Like many people, Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is taking New Year's resolutions. In recent years, his goals have been to kill his own meat, automate his home, and visit Central Americans. For 2019, Zuckerberg decided to hold a series of public discussions on the future of technology in society.
In recent years, Facebook was once considered a crucial social fabric connecting the world to ridicule as the very thing that tore it apart. The consequences of Facebook's original philosophy of "breaking things and acting fast" are happening in real time, and the CEO is now trying to find ways to take the reality into account.
Zuckerberg's idea is unlikely to result in much more than a benevolent philosophical debate – broadcast on Facebook or Instagram, of course. It is also hard to imagine that Zuckerberg will invite one of his most fervent detractors. But … what if he did it? Here, we leave Alarm the staff members imagine who we would like to see invited to the Zuckerberg forum. –Molly McHugh
Zeynep Tufekci, technology sociologist and professor
Victor Luckerson: The Russian propaganda campaign on Facebook has been both the spark of the persistent implosion of the image of society and a distraction from the fundamental problems of the Facebook platform. Tufekci, professor at the University of North Carolina at the School of Information and Librarianship at Chapel Hill and columnist at The Grouvy Today, has constantly and cleverly seen the political spectacle of the last two years to identify the fundamental flaws of Facebook. As the mid-session approached, as Facebook unveiled its "war room" aimed at preventing foreign influence, she noted in an essay that "we are focusing too much on the alien part of the problem … and not enough about how our own domestic politics polarization fuels the core business model like Facebook and YouTube. "
Tufekci has the training and tenacity to see beyond the small-scale debates that Silicon Valley would prefer. She began her professional career as a computer programmer before studying sociology, which gives her an overview of the problems that high-tech companies often try to solve using codes. She warned of the possible corrosive influence of social media on politics long before the election of President Donald Trump made the publication of dunk on Facebook popular. And she's good at pushing the big business people of our day to stupid times – Elon Musk's idiotic joke accusing one of the Thai soccer team's lifeguards of being a pedophile was going back and forth with Tufekci on Twitter. Zuck vs. Zeynep would not only be fun to watch – it would be enlightening for lawmakers who still can not see trees beyond the digital forest.
Tristan Harris, Technology Ethicist
Molly McHugh: The former Google employee has relied on his reputation to try to reverse the effects of his sector. Harris founded the Center for Humane Technology and the Time Well Spent initiative to encourage developers and designers to rethink how they create technology platforms. In regards to the 2016 election, Harris called Facebook a "living and breathing crime scene". Harris criticized Facebook's "Time is well spent" campaign, which only tells users that they are all "trapped" on Facebook and Instagram.
Of course, Harris is still a technologist, he is an engineer and a developer. But his specific criticism of Facebook is that it's an advertising company, not a social network. Facebook is constantly avoiding this problem, but Harris would not let the CEO get away from it. In addition, as a developer, Harris has the necessary knowledge to interview Zuckerberg specifically about mechanisms designed to intentionally "hijack" and exploit people. It's not often that Zuckerberg is asked about Facebook's features by someone who could offer exact alternatives.
The advantage of putting Harris in front of Zuckerberg, of course, is that it would give an industry insider who criticizes his peers the opportunity to take one of them to task, face to face. If Harris – an anti-Facebook admirer – is up to the challenge, other exiles in Silicon Valley may be interested in the monsters they created.
Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, parents of a Sandy Hook victim
Alyssa Bereznak: In 2012, Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa lost their child Noah during a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, they have been harassing online and in person, perpetrated by frantic anti-government conspiracy groups who claim that the event was a hoax. In an open letter published in The Guardian Last July, they explained in detail how Facebook had allowed these groups to continue operating and how the company had failed to provide meaningful protection to their families.
The story of Pozner and De La Rosa is an excellent (and incredibly disturbing) example of how lives can be ruined when a massive online platform assumes no responsibility for moderating information and prioritizes growth on the well-being of the communities it is supposed to serve. On the basis of many other examples we have seen in this regard, the way in which social media platforms plan to deal with such delicate situations should be a major topic in discussions about the future of social media. technology. And who better to challenge Zuckerberg in this conversation than the people who suffered from the neglect of his program?
Kate Knibbs, Alarm Editor
Justin Charity: Kate always asks me rude and deep questions in public spaces. She holds me responsible. As a cohort of our own podcast, Limit damageshe is as perceptive about terminal ethical failures and subsequent public relations fiascos as it is about technology, culture and the disastrous intersection of these two phenomena in general. Kate knows her damn Internet, unlike Mark Zuckerberg, who has largely ruined the Internet. If anything, Mark should ask Kate some questions. Maybe he will learn a thing or two. Mark, come on Limit damage.
Kate Knibbs: There are many insightful critics and technology analysts who make very compelling criticisms of Facebook and advanced technology, many of which have been nominated by my colleagues. But I do not think that their participation in Zuckerberg's resolution would be beneficial to anyone except Zuckerberg. This series of debates is nothing more than a calculated attempt to whitewash its public image. His company's role in society has been painstakingly and constantly scrutinized for years, and Facebook has repeatedly been reluctant to undergo course corrections to the detriment of bottom line results. In fact, Facebook's latest controversy was related to his dislike of critics. according to the Grouvy TodayFacebook tried to discredit them by employing a Republican research team to investigate and create inflammatory content about his opposition. Why do critics – who have already written and talked publicly about their problems with Facebook and the roles of big tech in society – agree to rephrase their arguments about Zuckerberg's terms, while there is no indication that Facebook will take them seriously ?
I suppose Zuckerberg's plan could give guest attendees decent publicity, but they should accept this advertising in exchange for their participation in a cynical show that benefits one of the most damaging monopolies in technology. I would prefer that Zuckerberg give up his series of discussions after nobody has accepted to return to its unfinished 2018 resolution: fix Facebook.