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After An Year of Ups And Downs, Zuckerberg Sees Progress With Facebook

One of the changes aims to reduce "viral videos" that are shared across the Facebook platform. 

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. VOA

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Friday that the world’s biggest social network has “fundamentally” changed to focus on securing its systems against manipulation and misinformation.

Capping a tumultuous year marked by data protection scandals and government probes, Zuckerberg said he was “proud of the progress we’ve made” in addressing Facebook’s problems.

“For 2018, my personal challenge has been to focus on addressing some of the most important issues facing our community — whether that’s preventing election interference, stopping the spread of hate speech and misinformation, making sure people have control of their information, and ensuring our services improve people’s well-being,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

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This photo shows the logo for Facebook on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square. VOA

“We’re a very different company today than we were in 2016, or even a year ago. We’ve fundamentally altered our DNA to focus more on preventing harm in all our services, and we’ve systematically shifted a large portion of our company to work on preventing harm.”

He said Facebook now has more than 30,000 people “working on safety” and invests billions of dollars in security.

Misuse of data

Zuckerberg’s comments come at the close of a year when Facebook was roiled by revelations about the misuse of personal data by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 U.S. election and on data sharing with business partners.

But he said the questions around Facebook are “more than a one-year challenge” and that the California giant was in the process of “multiyear plans to overhaul our systems.”

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

“In the past we didn’t focus as much on these issues as we needed to, but we’re now much more proactive,” he said.

The comments follow a message from Zuckerberg in January, before many of Facebook’s troubles emerged, when he outlined his goals of stemming abuse and hate and foreign interference, among other things, on the network used by more than 2 billion people.

“My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues,” Zuckerberg said in January.

Artificial intelligence

In Friday’s message, Zuckerberg enumerated a series of steps taken over the past year, including fact-checking partnerships, advertising transparency and artificial intelligence to remove harmful content.

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech, Russia, digital
A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France. VOA

He added that Facebook’s systems were also being retooled with the aim of helping “improve people’s well-being,” based on research it conducted.

The research, he said, “found that when people use the internet to interact with others, that’s associated with all the positive aspects of well-being. … But when you just use the internet to consume content passively, that’s not associated with those same positive effects.”

Also Read:  Mark Zuckerberg Reaches Out to Microsoft President For Help

One of the changes aims to reduce “viral videos” that are shared across the Facebook platform.

“These changes intentionally reduced engagement and revenue in the near term, although we believe they’ll help us build a stronger community and business over the long term,” Zuckerberg said. (VOA)

Next Story

Social Networking Giant Facebook Clears Dozens of Islamophobic Posts: Report

"But the Guardian has learned that since the original story was published on Friday, Facebook has been telling users that dozens of posts distributed through the network meet its community standards," said the report on Sunday

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The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

Facebook has reportedly cleared dozens of Islamophobic posts despite being flagged by an investigation by the Guardian that these posts are being used as part of a coordinated scheme profiting from hate and disinformation.

The Guardian revealed on Friday that an Israel-based group had gained access to at least 21 far-right Facebook pages with vast followings across the western world.

The 21 pages were used as part of a network to distribute over 1,000 “news” posts each week to more than one million followers.

Besides spreading disinformation and hate targeting Muslims, the posts were used to promote far-right politicians and vilify prominent Muslim politicians.

Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple’s App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

The motive for the operation appears to be financial, showed the investigation which revealed that the Facebook posts directed users to a cluster of ad-heavy websites, all controlled by a single entity.

Also Read: Tech Giant Apple Planning to Add Larger Batteries to 2020 iPhone Models

Following the Guardian investigation, Facebook launched its own probe and removed pages and accounts which were found to be spamming content for financial gain.

“But the Guardian has learned that since the original story was published on Friday, Facebook has been telling users that dozens of posts distributed through the network meet its community standards,” said the report on Sunday. (IANS)