Zuckerberg Reflects on 2018 as NYT Column Condemns Censorship

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has detailed his thoughts on 2018 in a blog post, published just after New York Times journalist Max Fisher’s column on political censorship went live.

Fisher attacked Facebook on 27th December for its clumsy forays into content moderation, presenting several examples where the company misfired and potentially exacerbated political tensions.

The piece was penned after an employee leaked 1,400 pages of company guidelines on the topic of censorship, which ranged from emoji policies to bans on “designated dehumanizing comparisons”.

The guidelines have many internal contradictions and factual errors, Fisher notes, as well as out-of-date region-by-region summaries.

Facebook’s emphasis was also critiqued: “The company bans an impressive array of American and British groups, [extremism expert Anton Shekhovtsov] said, but relatively few in countries where the far right can be more violent, particularly Russia or Ukraine.

“(…) Facebook blocks dozens of far-right groups in Germany, where the authorities scrutinize the social network, but only one in neighboring Austria.”

Zuckerberg’s note was posted the next day, 28th December, celebrating the progress Facebook had made since 2016 on sensitive topics.

It says that AI is being used to reduce the prominence of sensationalist and extreme content, and that the size of the manual review team has trebled to complement these efforts.

On election interference, the company has worked to identify bad actors more easily and remove them faster. September saw press invited to the election ‘war room’.

On data security, Facebook has moved to be GDPR compliant and encouraged all users to review their privacy settings.

On Time Well Spent, the platform has moved itself back towards facilitating social connections and away from viral video. This came at a revenue hit.

The post reads: “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in 2018 and grateful to everyone who has helped us get here — the teams inside Facebook, our partners and the independent researchers and everyone who has given us so much feedback.

“I’m committed to continuing to make progress on these important issues as we enter the new year.”

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