Facebook, David Weston, Francis Hall discussed on This Week


With David Weston on Bloomberg radio Facebook was a blower Francis hall gun a former product manager in the civic integrity unit testified this week before Congress about some of the dangers that Facebook poses Facebook knows that it's amplification algorithms things like engagement based ranking on Instagram can lead children from very innocuous topics like healthy recipes I think all of us could eat a little more healthy All the way from just something innocent like healthy recipes to anorexia promoting content over a very short period of time For his takeaways from the testimony I talked to early Facebook investor roger mcnamee cofounder of elevation partners and author of zucked waking up to the Facebook catastrophe Roger told me that Francis haugen had an extraordinary amount of access in her role at Facebook She was absolutely at the center civic integrity was responsible for addressing harms to users So she was in exactly the right place She's just utterly convincing in everything she does I thought her testimony was exceptional I can not tell you how much of a relief it is to me that she has come forward because we have known about these issues but what her work has done in bringing out tens of thousands of pages of documents is to eliminate Facebook's argument that they didn't know It is incredibly clear from these documents that Facebook crafted a business model based on attention It was designed to maximize profits at any cost which is an understandable thing in capitalism So it's completely understandable that it would work that way But at the same time in this case the harm that was done to public health to democracy to teenage girls has been incalculable and the core point is they knew it was there They knew it was going to happen It was they were warned about it and they chose to just continue to optimize profits And again in capitalism that's understandable but it really does cry out for regulation the same way that when the food industry was unsafe in 1906 we created the food Drug Administration when chemicals were unsafe in the 50s we created the environmental laws This came to our attention in part because of The Wall Street Journal reporting based on the documents that miss Hogan and it had to do with children and with the Facebook new or believed about the possible risks to children What do we know about that And what does Facebook know So Facebook has known this since the day it brought Instagram The goal of Instagram from the beginning was to make young girls look better than they really are And through that process to by making the look better the effectively create a whole culture of envy And that is the business model And there's nothing you can do to change that It's been there from the David and scream was created and it is a threat to the psychological well-being of an entire generation of young women and the key thing to understand is this is not a business model that exists only at Facebook It exists in various forms at Google that Amazon and Microsoft and it's now being adopted throughout the economy How much of this is because of the algorithms and the way they're designed Well a 100% of it is The way to think about this is that this is we're dealing with a business model based on attention and the best way to get people's attention is either the scare the more outrage So roger it really raises in my mind the question is is this a bug or a fix I mean could they fix this without really substantially undermining their business model No No no you can't You can still have Facebook and Instagram But you can't have them at their current profit levels because profit maximization is what essentially leads to all the harms What can be done by Congress or by creation of an agency you mentioned before perhaps an agency I think we already have enough information to design And we need three classes of things We need to think about safety and there I think something that looks like the FDA that simply looks at every technology product On a regular basis not just once but continuously to make sure that they are safe And it effectively creates a way for consumers to go to the government and say I'm sorry this is not working out for me here are the reasons why.

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