Inside Facebook's Political Ad Mess
Global business helping others you can hear her story on that made all the difference a new podcast about the defining moments in the lives of six achievers they after founding the Huffington Post Arianna Huffington worked around the clock until she experienced a wakeup call that inspired her to change her life and build Chrissy and so I went in thinking if what they offered me is true which was to build and had this new team worked in the world enough to know that that was not what I thought but I was not an easy easy interviewer like I was very clear don't hire me if you don't mean Eh. I'm very excited to help this company think through these very challenging questions of what role are we playing in global politics and global hope you like it on Wednesday of this week Mark Zuckerberg went up to Capitol Hill. Hi I'm Lizzie leary and if you're wondering why you're hearing my voice and in fact check politicians speech and Zuckerberg's last time in front of Congress was in the spring of two thousand Eighteen Yell Eisenstein remembers that day perfectly thank you chairwoman waters wrecking member mckenry and members of the committee thank you for the opportunity to testify today in theory he was there to testify about facebook's cryptocurrency. Lebron in practice he was there to be opinion for members of Congress Mr the world as a top priority they called me and gave me the exact title that spoke to the core of my priorities and who I am she was looking for the next thing and facebook came calling I watched the entire hearing I watched how many times he talked about elections in particular around today on the show why the fight over political ads on facebook his really a battle about something much bigger. I'm Lizzie O'Leary and facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation in twenty twenty elections and in the future so I just want to know how far I can push not Mary Harris's it's because we're bringing you a new show it's called what next TVD and it's part of the what next family focused on tech power and the future Berg I want to get through a number of questions diverse asset management fair housing issues diversity and inclusion in privacy the last time he testified was the day they made a job offer to me in fact they actually call me with the final offer one minute after his testimony ended that day yells background is fast so you'll hear me every Friday morning in your what next feet and you'll still get regular what next Monday through Thursday plus those great impeachment roundup shows are now on Friday afternoons regular conversation she's an idealist but she says she wasn't naive about the challenges I didn't have rose colored glasses thinking I was going to change the company an old enough and offered me this shiny title of Head of Global Elections Integrity Operations Yell is the kind of person talks about civil discourse and preserving democracy in what next TVD a show about technology power how the future will be determined stay with US dating she's been officer advised Vice President Biden on national security done corporate responsibility for companies and in two thousand eighteen at that point in her life to hire a team and to really help think through what is the best way for us to ensure that we are not harming democracy scene auctions around the world then how could I say no if you can hear in her voice but it didn't work out the way she wanted well that's true ask you plan on doing no back checking on political ads chairwoman our policy is that we do not you're day in particular lawmakers seem to want to focus on facebook's policy of not fact checking political ads you announced recently that the official policy of how do you studying also elusive it's known as the ghost of the mountain for researchers at the Snow Leopard Trust the answer is artificial intelligence by using Microsoft Day I to analyze L. Microsoft day I helps protect our environment at Microsoft dot com slash. Ai This is a show about tech and honestly thous remote camera images for snow leopards a task that used to take three days is now done in minutes so researchers have more time to save this threatened species C every industry uses tech today there are high paying careers software engineering data analytics data science product design to take your place in the world next workforce you need the right tech skills you need an education that leads to a career you need thankful thankful is a better way to learn all their courses level of one on one support also work with an expert career adviser helping you put to get the perfect resume. Organiz mock interviews to ensure that you're hired within six months taken completely online with full-time INFLEC- study options so you can commit one hundred percent or keep working while you left your skills thankful offers an unmatched ride cared about whether it be democracy civil discourse our national security was no longer coming from this thing abroad that I was working on out of it overseas but in two thousand fifteen she started rethinking her focus it started occurring to me that a bigger threat in my mind to all the things Ashley what next before Ya'll went to work for facebook she'd been deep in the national security world workforce but thankful to dot com slash what next to start building the future you want that's T. H. I n. k. f. U. L. Dot com completing the course and the best part if they don't help you get a job within six months your tuition is fully reimbursed it's time to take your place in the world's next to blame and I said something along the lines of I don't think Mark Zuckerberg set out to destroy democracy and gave US policies decisions conflicts over the last few weeks this question of facebook's role in public discourse is back in the headlines specifically how facebook treats politic having been a CA officer yes having been AC- I after having been a diplomat overseas having worked on the ground with real people affected by the only reason it was happening but did start exploring then started speaking about it and and was asked once on podcast do I think Mark Zuckerberg is and I started thinking it was bread breakdown of civil discourse here at home so start digging in started looking at why that was happening and I'm not saying social media's platform even when it would otherwise breach our normal content rules of course that got major pushback most notably from Elizabeth Warren League clear with you today we do not submit speech by politicians to our independent fact checkers and we generally allow it on the ZAC and former British politician and we're playing this tape because he kicked off this advertising controversy again when he spoke the Atlantic Festival recently and that's why I want to be re gle advertising good afternoon thank you very much for allowing me to spend ten minutes or so with you this afternoon our facebook that's Nick Clegg facebook Brin and Joe Biden and last week Mark Zuckerberg defended the policy in a speech he gave at Georgetown couching it as part of facebook's larger commitment to free speech not together given the sensitivity around political ads. I've considered when we should stop allowing them all together would probably be the easiest thing to do because I assume you're not actually making as much money from political advertising as you are from industries and other stuff however one of the questions they asked me during my interview which I actually heard Mark Zuckerberg talk about during his speech the other day they asked me do you think we should ban political advertising I do fundamentally believe that but we cannot deny that platform has been abused and the little a person so I do actually fundamentally believe that and I heard Mark Zuckerberg say that the other day and I agree with him political ads can be an important part of voice the answer I don't think this is anything intentional but I do question who he has a just decision making table and I suspect it's not people with my background's your background oh I don't think you guys should ban political advertising because I look at this globally and if you ban political advertising you're tilting the scales towards the incumbents who already have access to media access to information especially in countries that have more digital regimes and you'd be squashing the Voice of the smaller party ah they let it happen so I wanted to look at the political discourse all together over the platform from the organic side to the to the especially for local candidates and up and coming challengers advocacy groups in the media might not otherwise cover that way they can get their voice into the debate advertising side and understand what is actually the underlying drivers here do you remember your first day first week Oh yeah including right now is how many people they've hired with backgrounds like mine for example to help them fix these problems I wanted to understand if we're able to use fact checkers to start to actually address this misinformation problem on organic content My first meeting which was zoom meeting because I was a Menlo Park and my boss was not very first meeting with my new boss she let me know that after six months but while she was there she did raise this question about political I did pose that question in what's called an internal tribe at facebook me started putting out all these different ideas which means there was a hunger to have this conversation at least and again it's not about facebook telling me I have to change your title your title is now going to be manager I'll just say one of the things that we hear them tout a lot and they have they've hired some amazing people I had some amazing colleagues there but hiring us and empowering us are two different things and from day one the actually day to sorry it was made crystal clear to me I would never be empowered to do anything because of that yellow facebook anyway anybody in the media's goal is to try to contribute to all of this craziness that's going on but at the end of the day in order for you to actually get about about talking to us I was why I think there's so much noise out there and I am not one of those people who wants to contribute to the noise talk about is what are some of the solutions to help make sure that we have a healthy Internet that we can preserve all of our values which includes freedom of speech would be looking at ads for misinformation yell doesn't give a lot of interviews about her time at facebook I guess I wanted to ask you you hesitant I as ornamentation so I as you know like any place drink the company Kool aid very rarely in very exciting and my second day but reduce the way this is harming our civil discourse in our democracy one thing I'm curious about if you still had your old job I asked the question why can't we do the same thing in ad I didn't actually say we should we should ask why can't we what is the history and a lot of the different peons engineers and it's been broken down into this freedom of speech versus censorship conversation so all of the issues we're talking about whether or not you should let a politician renovate play on facebook and on Youtube and get out there you also have to play the game and have a salacious click bait title and so it is very hard for me to have to decide right who's going to govern the Internet those broader questions but none of the real core issues will be solved before twenty twenty which is in Miami the business model to begin with and it's not about whether or not facebook should take money for political advertising so the key core issue now is what should they do right and Titians what they can and can't say by I do know that there were zero appetite beyond the engineers PM's to actually even consider whether we should a from a business perspective the controversy certainly is not worth the very small part of our business that they make up and I did say you know what I bad whether or not you should have facebook being the ones who are deciding what is truth or not those are really important questions that society should union a business model lose entire metric is about user engagement and keeping your eyes on their screen so that they can hoover up all this data so that they can and I also I mean if you're going to I hope this will make it on I am skeptical of the media not necessarily because I think in collection machine that was used to make ads he argues that facebook's algorithm itself creates an uneven playing field most people didn't think about what we saw from the trump campaign and from twenty sixteen was just incredible use of this technology trust someone else with my narrative and I otherwise I will also get reduced down to just sounding like a disgruntled employee who's complaining when what I really wanted salad to advertisers that is what is rewarding the most salacious content that is what what would you do with it now what would be the things you wanted to worry about in the two thousand twenty election cycle so if I had my old job eating or emotional content can be put right in front of the person most likely to react to it because of what facebook knows about them then they share it and more people ten years I at buzzfeed now times he watched it evolve from a place where we share our personal news photos of our kids to a sophisticated data message that works well On facebook is a message that evokes strong emotional response so that can be coverage in in a way that that was really meaningful you've reported on the trump campaign's facebook ads in in two thousand sixteen what actually be able to work on the things that I care about because if I had my own job listen all of the different reactive things that are doing I mean they're important the fact that they are looking for an authentic pages of marketing that you know all the major brands coke and Pepsi and Procter and gamble us every day and creates anger and fear and anxiety those are also equally strong emotions we talked to allies instead shis content is what's going to grab the most people's attention ooh in other words schering a cat video or you know cute puppies or your your children or a great life moment getting engaged something like that the cultural impact of facebook advertising arm until twenty sixteen until the election until we realized that this was being see it that means a political ad that makes people excited or angry or outraged or scared is more likely to be seen by more people about her experience working in election integrity operations and one thing that she really focused on was saying look talking about but I think that's true I think that's what all of this is about when we look at this political ads is maybe not the right conversation that the the larger conversation is about targeting and the fact that it's that kind of emotional response and people share it comment on it more people see it the flip side of that is divisive content is content enrages that did you learn about how a campaign effectively uses facebook what do they do so well it's very similar to the traditional set the end to constantly be targeting and constantly refining a message to find the message that stuck that fit well what's a message that works well. On facebook platform for viral advertising and we've uploaded our public discourse onto it rewarding the biggest click bait stories that is why I listen I assume this is even happening political advertising why the most elite the message that's more vanilla talking to yell about this reminded me of something Charlie worzel wrote in The New York Times recently Charlie's been reporting on facebook for almost you can find that made all the difference anyway gets podcasts created by Bank of America but would you like the power to do the the very model itself makes the playing field not level I think it's terrifying someone involved deeply in facebook's you charlie and Lizzy c completely different versions of things that seems to dovetail with a column You wrote for The New York Times saying anti Democratic speech is is really it's a terrifying thing to think about had I don't get to see what's happening in the gears of the machine but being the gears of the machine and also say like this platform clearly incentivize efforts in this space feels that way I mean I think that that's really a remarkable thing it's one thing for me that I can feel that way right I only sort of study the town speech and we look at this stuff that's happening on Capitol Hill eat all kinds of dodges the fundamental question which is the thing that facebook is is that they're looking for and I think the behavior all of those things are important and I give them credit for that work but what I would want to do which I wouldn't be able to do if I was still inside the company is talking that's it for today show we reached out to facebook for comment on what y'all had to say they didn't get back to us by showtime at that creates a an emotion and a lot of times the the one that they like to highlight his you know joy or humor or a heart warming so when a facebook ad create is a certain type of behavior it rewards division and that the overall business model the thing that makes facebook facebook is what next TVD is a new show that'll be in your feed every Friday. The show is hosted by me Lizzie O'Leary and produced by Ethan Brooks. We'll talk to you next week.