I’m additionally not the primary to level out that lots of the worst examples of Facebook’s affect around the globe — the way in which it has facilitated genocide in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, led to lethal riots in India and Nigeria, and helped destabilize democracies around the globe by the unfold of disinformation and false information — are a direct results of the way in which its merchandise are designed to maximise engagement.
To its credit score, Facebook is making an attempt to vary a few of this. A few weeks in the past, Mr. Zuckerberg revealed a protracted observe concerning the firm’s efforts to cut back the unfold of “borderline” content material that just about however doesn’t fairly break its guidelines.
But it’s not clear but that Facebook can meaningfully change the engagement patterns on its apps — that are, in any case, constructed on giving customers extra of what they need, even when what they need is hateful or deceptive — with out unraveling its enterprise.
It’s additionally not clear, from the reporting my colleagues have executed over the previous few months, that the corporate’s leaders all agree that these product points are issues in any respect. Some executives appear to imagine that the true points are picture and notion, and that the majority of what’s wanted to right them is an enormous, new hearts-and-minds marketing campaign on Capitol Hill and a revamped media technique.
So the large questions for Facebook now are: Can the corporate first acknowledge that it has product issues, in addition to political and notion issues? If it will possibly agree on the product issues, how a lot cash is Mr. Zuckerberg keen to lose in order to repair them? And how a lot injury will the corporate take in in the meantime?
In different tech information of the week:
■ The Most worthy firm in the world is now … Microsoft? My colleague Steve Lohr defined how this occurred: It’s a narrative of an organization’s succeeding by embracing cloud computing, slicing some dropping bets and loosening up its notoriously tight grip on its merchandise. There is, it seems, a profit to being boring.
■ I’m obsessive about the article by Li Yuan, our China tech columnist, concerning the booming Chinese trade of data-tagging. It’s a very good preview of the sorts of jobs that is likely to be created by synthetic intelligence — in this case, cleansing up and labeling knowledge and pictures in order that they are often processed and fed into machine studying methods — whilst different classes of labor disappear.