By Levi Sumagaysay
The Mercury News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The spotlight on Facebook has intensified after growing evidence that Russians interfered with the 2016 election by using social media and other technology to spread misinformation and sow division.
The Mercury News
Everyone seems to be joining in on the Facebook pile-on.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said Facebook “should get back to baby pictures and sharing” during an interview at a conference Monday. At a different conference Tuesday, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said “you’re going to see the beginning of a movement.”
Their comments come as Facebook faces pressure from big advertisers such as Unilever, government officials, investors, former employees and advocacy groups, who are demanding solutions to address the misinformation, abuse and divisive content that appear on the social media site.
While such problems aren’t new to Facebook, the spotlight on the Silicon Valley giant has intensified after growing evidence that Russians interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election by using social media and other technology to spread misinformation and sow division. Because of it, everything from Facebook’s moderation policies to its business model are under closer scrutiny.
Facebook is not the only tech company under such pressure, though. YouTube’s platform has also hosted misleading information, propaganda and other videos that people find objectionable or offensive, and last year big brands pulled their ads over extremist content on the site.
So it seems like Wojcicki should understand the position in which Facebook finds itself. It appeared Wojcicki’s comment about Facebook was made half-jokingly, as she was pressed by Recode interviewer Kara Swisher on what she would do about the social network’s problems.
Wojcicki talked about the challenge of running a global platform for user-generated content, same as Facebook, and said “we take our responsibility seriously.”
But Benioff, who long has been one of the tech industry’s most prominent voices with a social conscience, doesn’t head a social network, he heads a cloud company. And his comments this week were a continuation of what he has been speaking up about lately: He is advocating for greater regulation of tech companies.
He also recently joined the criticism of one of Facebook’s newest products, Messenger Kids. Benioff likened Facebook getting kids started on social media early to how cigarette companies tried to hook children early in hopes of getting them addicted.
Meanwhile, another tech CEO weighed in Tuesday on the issues surrounding Facebook and others: Tim Armstrong of Oath, which owns the companies formerly known as Yahoo and AOL. Armstrong is raising his hand as brands fret about advertising on Facebook or Google. Oath’s media properties, which include the Huffington Post and Yahoo Finance, control the content on their sites and is a great alternative, Armstrong said at the Recode conference.