Social media, and Facebook in particular, have prioritized profit far above the sustainability of the country that has incubated them. Their algorithms are designed to maximize attention, and they well know that polarizing content and rage maximize engagement. A recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that fake news has a six-time advantage over real stories. How convenient, then, that Facebook has continued to resist suppressing dangerous misinformation. Their platform's media have created and empowered a consequential population of conspiracy theorists, including groups the FBI has determined to pose a domestic terror threat. Even though they have 15,000 people moderating the most egregious content like child pornography, their leadership has not done nearly enough to remove dangerous lies and disinformation.
Immediately after the election on Nov. 3, Facebook tweaked its algorithm to prioritize media based on factual verifiable reporting, but they did not continue after the election as they surely came to the conclusion that it would affect their bottom line. They know how to fix the vile spread of lies and conspiracy theories, but they will not take responsibility. We, their neighbors in Menlo Park, should not be passive or blind to the fact they we live next door to a doomsday machine. At the very least we should start a serious dialogue on what we can do to stop the virus of harmful conspiracy theories and state-sponsored disinformation purposefully designed to exacerbate the fault lines in our society.
Facebook and other social media platforms have all been complicit in excess pandemic deaths and in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 storming of our nation's Capitol. It is long past time for them to take responsibility for spreading hate and lies.
Santa Monica Avenue, Menlo Park
This story contains 380 words.
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