WEATHER AUTHORITY : Heat Advisory View Alerts

Facebook admits social media can 'corrode democracy'

For years, Facebook touted itself as a tool for connecting the world and giving every person a voice.Now the w...

Posted: Jan 22, 2018 8:11 PM
Updated: Jan 22, 2018 8:11 PM

For years, Facebook touted itself as a tool for connecting the world and giving every person a voice.

Now the world's largest social network is admitting there may be an unintended consequence to social networks: the undermining of democracy.

"At its best, [social media] allows us to express ourselves and take action," Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook's product manager for civic engagement, wrote in a blog post Monday. "At its worst, it allows people to spread misinformation and corrode democracy."

Chakrabarti added: "I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can't."

The startling comments are part of a new series of blog posts from Facebook executives and outside experts about the impact of social media on democracy. They come amid a wave of concerns from lawmakers, voters and tech industry employees about the damage done to societies by Facebook and other massive online platforms.

Since the 2016 U.S. election, there has been a steady drumbeat of damaging headlines about fake news, polarizing filter bubbles and Russian propaganda campaigns on Facebook as well as Twitter and Google's YouTube.

"From the Arab Spring to robust elections around the globe, social media seemed like a positive," Katie Harbath, Facebook's global politics and government outreach director, wrote in a separate blog post Monday. "The last US presidential campaign changed that."

Harbath cited "foreign interference that Facebook should have been quicker to identify" as well as "the rise of 'fake news' and echo chambers." Chakrabarti also said Facebook was "far too slow to recognize how bad actors were abusing our platform."

Related: Silicon Valley's 'gut-wrenching' year confronting its dark side

Facebook is facing pressure to prove it can do better. Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google were called to testify before Congress for several hearings on propaganda and misinformation last year.

"I don't think you get it," Sen. Diane Feinstein, a Democrat representing Facebook's home state of California, told the tech executives at one hearing in November. "What we're talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we're talking about is the beginning of cyber warfare... You have a huge problem on your hands."

The unrelenting criticism has prompted what can only be described as a months-long apology tour from current and former Facebook executives, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In a remarkably candid post for Yom Kippur last year, Zuckerberg apologized for "the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together."

Zuckerberg said this month his personal goal for 2018 is "fixing" Facebook's many existential problems, including "defending against interference by nation states."

To that end, Facebook recently announced plans to prioritize articles in its News Feed from news organizations that it deems more "trustworthy," based on surveys of its users.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34622

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds269748
DeSoto181818
Madison138236
Jones117349
Harrison104014
Rankin103515
Neshoba102274
Lauderdale94281
Forrest93943
Scott79215
Jackson72717
Washington64310
Copiah63115
Leake61320
Lee58621
Holmes57341
Oktibbeha56828
Wayne55416
Warren55320
Yazoo5436
Grenada5357
Lowndes52613
Leflore52256
Lincoln50935
Lamar5027
Pike47020
Sunflower4528
Lafayette4374
Monroe43635
Covington4195
Panola3996
Bolivar38018
Attala37524
Simpson3733
Newton35710
Adams34019
Pontotoc3266
Tate32313
Marion31312
Claiborne29310
Chickasaw29219
Winston28711
Pearl River27632
Noxubee2758
Marshall2693
Jasper2676
Clay25511
Union23811
Smith23412
Walthall2267
Coahoma2156
Clarke21425
Lawrence1992
Yalobusha1938
Kemper18014
Carroll17311
Tallahatchie1664
Humphreys15910
Montgomery1493
Calhoun1475
Tippah14411
Itawamba1418
Hancock13813
Webster12811
Tunica1193
Jefferson1173
Jefferson Davis1164
Prentiss1123
Greene10810
Amite1063
George1023
Wilkinson959
Tishomingo921
Quitman891
Alcorn852
Perry764
Choctaw754
Stone732
Franklin492
Benton420
Sharkey420
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6030162
Mobile4418137
Montgomery4339109
Tuscaloosa254448
Madison19078
Marshall186611
Shelby150924
Lee149437
Morgan12205
Baldwin111410
Walker105127
Elmore98919
Dallas9639
Franklin92216
Etowah88214
DeKalb8416
Chambers65727
Russell6570
Autauga65313
Butler64328
Tallapoosa61669
Unassigned58626
Limestone5741
Houston5526
Cullman5395
Lauderdale5376
Lowndes48022
St. Clair4692
Colbert4656
Pike4595
Escambia4528
Calhoun4365
Coffee4074
Covington39911
Jackson3742
Bullock37010
Barbour3672
Dale3621
Talladega3497
Hale33722
Marengo33011
Wilcox2968
Clarke2946
Winston2893
Chilton2872
Sumter28512
Blount2731
Pickens2556
Monroe2492
Marion24514
Randolph2449
Conecuh2277
Perry2091
Bibb2081
Macon2069
Choctaw20212
Greene1928
Henry1433
Crenshaw1273
Washington1277
Lawrence1170
Cherokee1127
Geneva920
Lamar811
Fayette781
Clay742
Coosa621
Cleburne411
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
92° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 101°
Columbus
Scattered Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 104°
Oxford
Few Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 96°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 96°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather