Facebook asks “Hard Questions” about Its Effect on our Political System

The company says it’s determined to be “a source for democratic good.”

As part of Facebook “Hard Questions” series, the company has published several blog posts about the effects of social media on democracy. This comes on the heels of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that the tech giant was changing its algorithm to to enhance user “well-being.” The new set of posts are a striking sign that the tech giant realizes that the conversation about technology and the role it’s playing in our lives is only deepening.

“We’re as determined as ever to fight the negative influences and ensure that our platform is unquestionably a source for democratic good,” Katie Harbath, the company’s Global Politics and Government Outreach Director, writes. “There is much to build on in this regard, from the powerful role social media plays in giving people a voice in the democratic process to its ability to deliver information on an unprecedented scale.”.

In a follow-up post, Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s Product Manager for Civic Engagement, admits that Facebook failed to recognize “bad actors” and acknowledges the company has a larger responsibility. “I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t,” he writes. “That’s why we have a moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil and trustworthy as possible.”

As Vice President of Public Policy and Communication Elliot Schrage wrote in the series’ opening post, “Hard Questions” was born as a place for Facebook to “not only explain some of our choices but also explore hard questions.” Certainly, today’s topic qualifies as a hard question.

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