The reason why Facebook allows provocative posts promoting animal abuse on its website is because Mark Zuckerberg is uncomfortable with making decisions about content policy. He doesn’t want to make the decisions. He probably can’t make them. He is unqualified to make such decisions and he knows it. He’s a nerd and he got lucky. He has 60% voting rights at his company. The world has a 33-year-old nerd (and a bit creepy) “who has basically full control of the experience of 2bn people around the world” (pollster Travis McGinn).
There’s a lot of drift in Facebook and it is because Mark Zuckerberg is unable to make decisions on content. On numerous occasions people like myself have complained to Facebook when bringing to their attention provocative pages and posts condoning or encouraging animal abuse. On every occasion they have said that it does not violate their policy regulations.
I could never understand it. I wasn’t the only one. Now I understand. Mark Zuckerberg who is worth US$64 billion has recently said that he wants to abdicate responsibility for monitoring what appears on his website through a new set of policies and controls.
“I feel fundamentally uncomfortable sitting here in California in an office making content policy decisions for people around the world. Things like, “where is the line on hate speech?” I mean who chose me to be the person that did that? I guess I have to, because we are here now, but I’d rather not.”
Well, there you have it: Mark Zuckerberg is out of his depth on his own website when it comes to deciding what can and what cannot be on it. And he can’t make up his mind up about data protection and it seems many other issues.
He was a brilliant programmer and he came up with a brilliant idea with the help of other people and that’s about it. A former mentor said that Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook “is so far off track I don’t know how they get back”. As Bryan Appleyard and Danny Fortson write in The Sunday Times, a year ago he was going to be President.
One of the great problems with the Internet is that the primary way websites make money is through advertising. It might be better if people started to pay a subscription to all content websites because effective advertising depends upon knowing a lot about users which can lead to abuse of personal data. That situation needs to be avoided. Website visitors don’t seem to realise that content has to be paid for somehow.
Facebook is drifting towards a time when it will be government regulated and I hope that there will be a time when Facebook moderators are unable to state that grossly objectionable posts promoting animal abuse does not violate their policies.