Tag Archives: regulation

World leaders ask tech giants to tackle toxic content with Christchurch Call

On Wednesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will ask tech companies to sign a pledge called the Christchurch Call, as The New York Times previously reported. Digital ministers of the Group of 7 nations are meeting tomorrow to talk about toxic content and tech regulation.

The Christchurch Call is the first result on that work and a way to start involving tech companies with a nonbinding pledge. Named after the terrorist attack in Christchurch, the agreement should ask tech platforms to increase their efforts when it comes to blocking toxic content. In other words, democracies don’t want another shooting video going viral and also don’t want to block Facebook, YouTube or Twitter altogether.

According to people working for the French Economy Ministry, the Christchurch Call doesn’t contain any specific recommendations for new regulation. Countries get to decide what they mean by violent and extremist content for instance.

“For now, it’s a focus on an event in particular that caused an issue for multiple countries,” France Digital Minister Cédric O said in a meeting with a few journalists.

Companies that sign the pledge agree to improve their moderation processes and share more information about the work they’re doing to prevent terrorist content from going viral. On the other side, governments agree to work on laws that ban toxic content from social networks.

Tomorrow, a handful of countries are expected to sign the Christchurch Call. According to French government officials, members of the Group of 7 nations should sign it but the U.S. might not sign it. New Zealand, Norway and a handful of countries that are not part of the Group of 7 nations should also sign the pledge.

After that, it’ll be up to tech companies to side with those governments and say that they have heard their plea. It’s a nonbinding agreement after all, so I’m sure many social networks will see it as gestures of goodwill.

In addition to digital ministers and government officials, the French Economy Ministry says that representatives from Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Snap, Mozilla, Google, Qwant, the Wikimedia Foundation and the Web Foundation will be there on Wednesday.

So you can expect that some, if not all of them, will sign the pledge. The New York Times says that Facebook, Google and Microsoft have already agreed to sign the pledge.

Indian court lifts ban on TikTok in India

An Indian state court has reversed its ban on TikTok, allowing the short video app to return to both Apple and Google’s app stores, according to a report this morning from Reuters. Earlier this month, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had ordered TikTok be removed from app stores, after a High Court in Madras determined the app was encouraging pornography and other illicit content.

Though the removal only affected new users who were looking to download TikTok’s app to their devices for the first time — not those who already had it installed — the ban was a major blow to TikTok’s Chinese owner Bytedance. The company said in a court filing the ban was resulting in a $500,000 daily loss, and was putting more than 250 jobs at risk.

India had become a large and growing market for TikTok, with nearly 300 million users in the country out of over 1 billion total downloads, according to Sensor Tower. (TikTok notes it had over 120 million monthly actives in India.)

India had also accounted for 27 percent of TikTok’s total installs between December 2017 and December 2018, Sensor Tower found, which meant the app was a huge source of TikTok’s overall growth.

However, some Indian politicians and parents believe the app’s content is inappropriate, particularly with regard to its use by minors. And the Tamil Nadu court — which ruled against TikTok — said the app could expose children to sexual predators, as well.

TikTok, meanwhile, had argued that a “very miniscule” proportion of its videos were inappropriate, and that it had removed over 6 million videos that had violated its terms of use and community guidelines after reviewing content created by users in India.

The ban, had it been upheld, could have foretold increased legal action and regulation against other social media apps in India.

This wasn’t the first time TikTok has come under fire by government regulators.

In February, the FTC in the U.S. fined TikTok $5.7 million for violating children’s privacy law (COPPA) and required the app to implement an age gate.

Bytedance, in a statement, welcomed the court’s decision to reverse the ban, saying:

We are glad about this decision and we believe it is also greatly welcomed by our thriving community in India, who use TikTok as a platform to showcase their creativity. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue serving our users better. While we’re pleased that our efforts to fight against misuse of the platform has been recognised, the work is never “done” on our end. We are committed to continuously enhancing our safety features as a testament to our ongoing commitment to our users in India

Mark Zuckerberg actually calls for regulation of content, elections, privacy

It’s been a busy day for Facebook exec op-eds. Earlier this morning, Sheryl Sandberg broke the site’s silence around the Christchurch massacre, and now Mark Zuckerberg is calling on governments and other bodies to increase regulation around the sorts of data Facebook traffics in. He’s hoping to get out in front of heavy-handed regulation and get a seat at the table shaping it.

The founder published a letter simultaneously on his own page and The Washington Post, the latter of which is an ideal way to get your sentiments on every desk inside the beltway. In the wake a couple of years that have come with black eyes and growing pains, Zuckerberg notes that if he had it to do over again, he’d ask for increased external scrutiny in four key areas:

  • Harmful content – He wants overarching rules and benchmarks social apps can be measured by
  • Election integrity – He wants clear government definitions of what constitutes a political or issue ad
  • Privacy – He wants GDPR-style regulations globally that can impose sanctions on violators
  • Data portability – He wants users to be able to bring their info from one app to another

The story of why the letter breaks down each doubles as kind of recent history of the social network. Struggles and missteps have defined much of Facebook’s last few years, with several controversies often swirling around the social network at once. Not every CEO gets asked to testify in front of Congress. Facebook houses and controls an incredible collection of data, playing a key role in everything from ad targeting and interpersonal relationships to news cycles and elections.

I’ve spent most of the past two years focusing on issues like harmful content, elections integrity and privacy. I think…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Saturday, March 30, 2019

“Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree,” Zuckerberg writes, three days after issuing a blanket ban on “white nationalism” and “white separatism.” He goes on to describe the company’s work with various governments, along with its development of independent oversight committee, before anyone can accuse the company of completely passing the buck.

“One idea is for third-party bodies to set standards governing the distribution of harmful content and to measure companies against those standards,” Zuckerberg writes, “Regulation could set baselines for what’s prohibited and require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum.”

Zuckerberg goes on to encourage increased legislation around election tampering and political advertisements. Notably, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hit Facebook earlier this week with charges that its targeted ads violate the Fair Housing Act.

The op-ed rings somewhat hollow, though, because there’s plenty that Facebook could do to improve in these four areas without help from the government.

Facebook’s harmful content policies have long been confusing, inconsistent, and isolated. For example, Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was removed from Facebook but not from Instagram. Meanwhile, bad actors can just hop between social networks to spread problematic posts. Facebook should apply enforcement of its policies across its whole family of apps, publicly work through its logic for why it does or doesn’t remove things instead of having those discussions leak, and cooperate better with fellow social networks to coordinate blanket takedowns of the worst offenders.

As for election integrity, Facebook made a big advance this week by placing all active and old inactive political ad campaigns into keyword-searchable Ad Library. But after pressure from news publishers who didn’t want their ads promoting politicized articles to be included beside traditional campaign ads, Facebook exempted them. Those ads can still influence the electorate, and while they should be classified separately, they should still be archived for research.

On privacy, well, there’s a ton to be done. One major area where it could improve is allowing people to more completely opt out of search, including by their phone number, to avoid stalkers. And better controls should be available for how Facebook uses your contact info when uploaded in the address books of other users.

Finally, with data portability, Facebook has been dragging its feet. A year ago, we published a deep dive into how Facebook only lets you export your social graph as a list of friends’ names which can’t be easily used to find them on other social networks. Facebook must make its social graph truely interoperable so users don’t lose their community if they switch apps. That would coerce Facebook to treat users better since leaving would actually be a viable option.

Taking these steps would show regulators that Zuckerberg isn’t just paying lip service in hopes of getting a more lenient sentence. It would demonstrate he’s ready to make change that serves society.

Instagram founders say losing autonomy at Facebook meant “winning”

Rather than be sore about losing independence within Facebook, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom told me it was an inevitable sign of his app’s triumph. Today at South By South West, Systrom and fellow co-founder Mike Krieger sat down for their first on-stage talk together since leaving Facebook in September. They discussed their super hero origin stories, authenticity on social media, looming regulation for big tech, and how they’re exploring what they’ll do next.

Krieger grew up hitting “view source” on websites while Systrom hacked on AOL booter programs that would kick people off instant messenger, teaching both how code could impact real people. As Instagram grew popular, Krieger described the “incredi-bad” feeling of fighting server fires and trying to keep the widely loved app online even if that meant programming in the middle of a sushi restaurant or camping retreat. He once even revived Instagram while drunk in the middle of the night, and woke up with no memory of the feat, confused about who’d fixed the problem. The former Instagram CTO implored founders not to fall into the “recruiting death spiral” where you’re too busy to recruit which makes you busier which makes you too busy to recruit…

But thankfully, the founders were also willing to dig into some tougher topics than their scrappy startup days.

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (from left) drive to Palo Alto to raise their Series A, circa January 2011

Independence vs Importance.

“In some ways, there being less autonomy is a function of Instagram winning. If Instagram had just been this niche photo app for photographers, we probably would be working on that app for 20 year. Instead what happened was it got better and better and better, and it improved, and it got to a size where it was meaningfully important to this company” Systrom explained. “If this thing gets to that scale that we want it to get to which is why we’re doing this deal, the autonomy will eventually not be there as much because it’s so important. So in some ways it’s just an unavoidable thing if you’re successful. So you can choose, do you want to be unsuccessful and small and have all the autonomy in the world, or no?”

AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 11: Mike Krieger speaks onstage at Interactive Keynote: Instagram Founders Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger with Josh Constine during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Center on March 11, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Saucedo/Getty Images for SXSW)

Krieger followed up that “I think if you study . . . all the current companies, the ones that succeed internally eventually have become so important to the acquiring company that it’s almost irresponsible to not be thinking about what are the right models for integration. The advice I generally give is, ‘are you okay with that if you succeed?’ And if you’re not then you shouldn’t do the deal.” If the loss of autonomy can’t be avoided, they suggest selling to a rocket ship that will invest in and care for your baby rather than shift priorities.

Asked if seeing his net worth ever feels surreal, Systrom said  money doesn’t make you happy and “I don’t really wake up in the morning and look at my bank account.” I noted that’s the convenient privilege of having a big one.

The pair threw cold water on the idea that being forced to earn more money drove them out of the company. “I remember having this series of conversations with Mark and other folks at Facebook and they’re like ‘You guys just joined, do not worry about monetization, we’ll figure this out down the road.’ And it actually came a lot more from us saying “1. It’s important for us to be contributing to the overall Fb Inc . . . and 2. Each person who joins before you have ads is a person you’re going to have to introduce ads to.” Systrom added that “to be clear, we were the ones pushing monetization, not the other way around, because we believed Instagram has to make money somehow. It costs a lot to run . . . We pushed hard on it so that we would be a successful unit within Facebook and I think we got to that point, which is really good.”

But from 2015 to 2016, Instagram’s remaining independence fueled a reinvention of its app with non-square photos, the shift to the algorithm, and the launch of Stories. On having to challenge the fundamental assumptions of a business, “You’ve got maybe a couple years of relevance when you build a product. If you don’t reinvent it every quarter or every year, then you fall out of relevance and you go away.”

That last launch was inspired by wanting to offer prismatic identity where people could share non-highlights that wouldn’t haunt them. But also, Systrom admits that “Honestly a big reason why was that for a long time, people’s profiles were filled with Snapchat links and it was clear that people were trying to bridge the two products. So by bringing the two products [Feed and Stories] into one place, we gave consumers what they wanted.” Though when I asked anyone in the crowd who was still mad about the algorithm to hiss, SXSW turned into a snake pit.

Regulating Big Tech

With Systrom and Krieger gone, Facebook is moving forward with plans to more tightly integrate Instagram with Facebook and WhatsApp. That includes unifying their messaging system, which some say is designed to make Facebook’s apps harder to break up with anti-trust regulation. What does Systrom think of the integration? “The more people that are available to talk with, the more useful the platform becomes. And I buy that thesis . . . Whether or not they will in fact want to talk to people on different platforms, I can’t tell the future, so I don’t know” Systrom said.

AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 11: Josh Constine, Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom speak onstage at Interactive Keynote: Instagram Founders Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger with Josh Constine during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Center on March 11, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Saucedo/Getty Images for SXSW)

Krieger recommended Facebook try to prove users want that cross-app messaging before embarking on a giant engineering challenge of merging their backends. When I asked if Systrom ever had a burning desire to Instagram Direct message a WhatsApp user, he admitted “Personally, no.” But in a show of respect and solid media training, he told his former employer “Bravo for making a big bet and going for it.”

Then it was time for the hardest hitting question: their thoughts on Presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to regulate big tech and roll back Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. “Do we get our job back?” Systrom joked, trying to diffuse the tension. Krieger urged more consideration of downstream externalities, and specificity on what problem a break up fixes. He wants differentiation between regulating Facebook’s acquisitions, Amazon white-labeling and selling products, and Apple’s right to run the only iOS App Store.

Acquisition vs Competition

“We live in a time where I think the anger against big tech has increased ten-fold — whether that’s because the property prices in your neighborhood have gone up, whether it’s because you don’t like Russian meddling in elections — there are a long list of reasons people are angry at tech right now and some of them I think are well-founded” Systrom confirmed. “That doesn’t mean that the answer is to break all the companies up. Breaking companies up is a very specific prescription for a very specific problem. If you want to fix economic issues there are ways of doing that. If you want to fix Russian meddling there are ways of doing that. Breaking up a company doesn’t fix those problems. That doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t be broken up if they get too big and they’re monopolies and they cause problems, but being big in and of itself is not a crime.”

attends Interactive Keynote: Instagram Founders Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger with Josh Constine during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Center on March 11, 2019 in Austin, Texas

Systrom then took a jab at Warren’s tech literacy, saying “part of what’s surprised me is that generally the policy is all tech should be broken up, and that feels to me again not nuanced enough and it shows me that the understanding of the problem isn’t there. I think it’s going to take a more nuanced proposal, but my fear is that something like a proposal to break up all tech is playing on everyone’s current feeling of anti-tech rather than doing what I think politicians should do which is address real problems and give real solutions.”

The two founders then gave some pretty spurious logic for why Instagram’s acquisition helped consumers. “As someone who ran the company for how many years inside of Facebook? Six? There was a lot of competition internally even and I think better ideas came out because of it. We grew both companies not just one company. It’s really hard question. What consumer was damaged because it grew to the size that it did? I think that’s a strong argument that in fact the acquisition worked out for consumers.” That ignores the fact that if Instagram and Facebook were rivals, they’d have to compete on privacy and treating their users well. Even if they inspired each other to build more engaging products, that doesn’t address where harm to consumers has been done.

Krieger suggested that the acquisition actually spurred competition by making Instagram a role modeI. “There was a gold rush of companies being like ‘I’m going to be the Instagram of X . . . the Instagram of Audio, the Instagram of video, the Instagram of dog photos.’ You saw people start new companies and try to build them out in order to try to achieve what we’ve gotten to.” Yet no startup besides Snapchat, which had already launched, has actually grown to rival Instagram. And seeing Instagram hold its own against the Facebook empire would have likely inspired many more startups — some of which can’t find funding since investors doubt their odds against a combined Facebook and Instagram

As for what’s next for the college buddies, “we’re giving ourselves the time to get curious about things again” Krieger says. They’re still exploring so there was no big reveal about their follow-up venture. But Systrom says they built Instagram by finding the mega-trend of cameras on phones and asking what they’d want to use, “and the question is, what’s the next wave?”

UK media giants call for independent oversight of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter

The UK’s leading broadcasters and ISPs have called for the government to introduce independent regulatory oversight of social media content.

The group of media and broadband operators in the tightly regulated industries spans both the state-funded and commercial sector — with the letter to the Sunday Telegraph being inked with signatures from the leaders of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, BT and TalkTalk.

They argue there’s an “urgent” need for independent oversight of social media, and counter suggestions that such a move would amount to censorship by pointing out that tech companies are already making choices about what to allow (or not) on their platforms.

They are argue independent oversight is necessary to ensure “accountability and transparency” over those decisions, writing: “There is an urgent need for independent scrutiny of the decisions taken, and greater transparency. This is not about censoring the internet, it is about making the most popular internet platforms safer, by ensuring there is accountability and transparency over the decisions these private companies are already taking.”

“We do not think it is realistic or appropriate to expect internet and social media companies to make all the judgment calls about what content is and is not acceptable, without any independent oversight,” they add.

Calls for regulation of social media platforms have been growing from multiple quarters and countries, and politicians clearly feel there is political capital to spend here. (Indeed, Trump’s latest online punchbag is Google.)

Yet policymakers the world over face the challenge of how to regulate platforms that have become so popular and therefore so powerful. (Germany legislated to regulate social media firms over hate speech takedowns last year but it’s in the vanguard of government action.)

The UK government has made a series of proposals around Internet safety in recent years, and the media & telco group argues this is a “golden opportunity” to act against what they describe as “all potential online harms” — further suggesting that “many of which are exacerbated by social media”.

The government is working on a white paper on Internet safety, and the Telegraph says potential interventions currently under private debate include the creation of a body along the lines of the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (which reports to Ofcom), which it says could oversee Facebook, Google and Twitter to decide whether to remove material in response to complaints from users.

The newspaper adds that it is envisaged by proponents of this idea that such a regime would be voluntary but backed with the threat of a legislative crackdown if the online environment does not improve. (The EU has been taking this approach with hate speech takedowns.)

Commenting on the group’s letter, a government spokesperson told the Telegraph: “We have been clear that more needs to be done to tackle online harms. We are committed to further legislation.”

For their part, tech platforms claim they are platforms not publishers.

Yet their algorithms indisputably create hierarchies of information — which they also distribute at vast scale. At the same time they operate their own systems of community standards and content rules, which they enforce (typically imperfectly and inconsistently), via after-the-fact moderation.

The cracks in this facade are very evident — whether it’s a high profile failure such as the Kremlin-backed mass manipulation of Facebook’s platform or this smaller scale but no less telling individual moderation failure. There are very clearly severe limitations to the self-regulation the companies typically enjoy.

Meanwhile, the impacts of bad content decisions and moderation failures are increasingly visible — as a consequence of the the vast scale of (especially) Facebook and Google’s YouTube.

In the UK, a parliamentary committee which has been probing the impact of social media amplified disinformation on democracy recently recommended a third category be created to regulate tech giants that’s not necessarily either a platform or a publisher but which tightens their liabilities.

The committee’s first report, following a long and drama-packed enquiry this year (thanks to the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data misuse scandal), also called for social media firms to be taxed to pay for major investment in the UK’s data protection watchdog so it is better resourced to be able to police data-related malfeasance.

The committee also suggested there should be an education levy also raised off social media firms to pay for the digital literacy skills necessary for citizens to navigate all the stuff being amplified by their platforms.

In their letter to the Sunday Telegraph the group emphasizes their own investment in the UK, whether in the form of tax payments, original content creation or high-speed broadband infrastructure.

Whereas U.S. tech giants stand accused of making lower contributions to national coffers as a result of how they structure their businesses.

The typical tech firm response to tax-related critiques is to say they always pay the tax that is due. But technical compliance with the intricacies of tax law will do nothing to alleviate the reputational damage they could suffer if their businesses become widely perceived as leaching off (rather than contributing to) the nation state.

And that’s the political lever the media firms and ISPs look to be seeking to pull here.

We’ve reached out to Facebook, Twitter and Google for comment.

Regulation could protect Facebook, not punish it

You know what tech startups hate? Complicated legal compliance. The problem is, Facebook isn’t a startup any more, but its competitors are.

There have been plenty of calls from congress and critics to regulate Facebook following the election interference scandal and now the Cambridge Analytica debacle. The government could require extensive ads transparency reporting or data privacy protections. That could cost Facebook a lot of money, slow down its operations, or inhibit its ability to build new products.

But the danger is that those same requirements could be much more onerous for a tiny upstart company to uphold. Without much cash or enough employees, and with product-market fit still to nail down, young startups might be anchored by the weight of regulation. It could prevent them from ever rising to become a true alternative to Facebook. Venture capitalists choosing whether to fund the next Facebook killer might look at the regulations as too high of a price of entry.

STANFORD, CA – JUNE 24: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (R) hugs U.S. President Barack Obama during the 2016 Global Entrepeneurship Summit at Stanford University on June 24, 2016 in Stanford, California. President Obama joined Silicon Valley leaders on the final day of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The lack of viable alternatives has made the #DeleteFacebook movement toothless. Where are people going to go? Instagram? WhatsApp? The government already missed its chances to stop Facebook from acquiring these companies that are massive social networks in their own right.

The only social networks to carve out communities since Facebook’s rise did so largely by being completely different, like the ephemeral Snapchat that purposefully doesn’t serve as a web identity platform, and the mostly-public Twitter that caters to thought leaders and celebrities more than normal people sharing their personal lives. Blockchain-based decentralized social networks sound nice but may be impossible to spin up.

That’s left few places for Facebook haters to migrate. This might explain why despite having so many more users, #DeleteFacebook peaked last week at substantially fewer Twitter mentions than the big #DeleteUber campaign from last January, according to financial data dashboard Sentieo. Lyft’s existence makes #DeleteUber a tenable stance, because you don’t have to change your behavior pattern, just your brand of choice.

If the government actually wants to protect the public against Facebook abusing its power, it would need to go harder than the Honest Ads Act that would put political advertising on Internet platforms under the same scrutiny regarding disclosure of buyers as the rules for TV and radio advertising. That’s basically just extra paperwork for Facebook. We’ve seen regulatory expenses deter competition amongst broadband internet service providers and in other industries. Real change would necessitate regulation that either creates alternatives to Facebook or at least doesn’t inhibit their creation.

That could mean only requiring certain transparency and privacy protections from apps over a certain size, like 200 million daily users. This would put the cap a bit above Twitter and Snapchat’s size today, giving them time to prepare for compliance, while immediately regulating Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Google’s social problem child YouTube.

Still, with Facebook earning billions in profit per quarter and a massive war chest built up, Mark Zuckerberg could effectively pay his way out of the problem. That’s why it makes perfect sense for him to have told CNN “I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated” and that “There are things like ad transparency regulation that I would love to see.” Particular regulatory hurdles amount to just tiny speed bumps for Facebook. Courting this level of regulation could bat down the question of whether it should be broken up or its News Feed algorithm needs to change.

Meanwhile, if the government instituted new rules for tech platforms collecting persona information going forward, it could effectively lock in Facebook’s lead in the data race. If it becomes more cumbersome to gather this kind of data, no competitor might ever amass an index of psychographic profiles and social graphs able to rival Facebook’s.

A much more consequential approach would be to break up Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Facebook is trying to preempt these drastic measures with Zuckerberg’s recent apology tour and its purchase of full-page ads in nine newspapers today claiming it understands its responsibility.

Establishing them as truly independent companies that compete would create meaningful alternatives to Facebook. Instagram and WhatsApp would have to concern themselves with actually becoming sustainable businesses. They’d all lose some economies of data scale, forfeiting the ability to share engineering, anti-spam, localization, ad sales, and other resources that a source close to Instagram told me it gained by being acquired in 2012, and that Facebook later applied to WhatsApp too.

Both permanent photo sharing and messaging would become two-horse races again. That could lead to the consumer-benefiting competition and innovation the government hopes for from regulation.

Yet with strong regulation like dismantling Facebook seeming beyond the resolve of congress, and weak regulation potentially protecting Facebook, perhaps it’s losing the moral high ground that will be Facebook’s real punishment.

Facebook chief legal officer Colin Stretch testifies before congress regarding Russian election interference

We’ve already seen that first-time download rates aren’t plummeting for Facebook, its App Store ranking has actually increased since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, and blue chip advertisers aren’t bailing, according to BuzzFeed. But Facebook relies on the perception of its benevolent mission to recruit top talent in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Techies take the job because they wake up each day believing that they’re having a massive positive influence by connecting the world. These people could have founded or worked at a new startup where they’d have discernible input on the direction of the product, and a chance to earn huge return multiples on their stock. Many have historically worked at Facebook because its ads say it’s the “Best place to build and make an impact”.

But if workers start to see that impact as negative, they might not enlist. This is what could achieve that which surface-level regulation can’t. It’s perhaps the most important repercussion of all the backlash about fake news, election interference, well-being, and data privacy: that losing talent could lead to a slow-down of innovation at Facebook that might  leave the door open for a new challenger.

For more on Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, read our feature pieces:

Platform power is crushing the web, warns Berners-Lee

On the 29th birthday of the world wide web, its inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has sounded a fresh warning about threats to the web as a force for good, adding his voice to growing concerns about big tech’s impact on competition and society. The web’s creator argues that the “powerful weight of a few dominant” tech […]

In their first Russia hearing, tech giants try to placate Congress (with mixed results)

 On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off the first of three hearings this week examining the relationship between social media and Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The hearings mark the first time that lawmakers will hear testimony from Google, Facebook and Twitter around how their platforms were and are manipulated as part of Russian political… Read More