At one time limit, Fb’s relationship with politicians was comparatively uncontroversial.
However after the 2016 US elections, all the pieces modified.
Early within the marketing campaign, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump examined the bounds of Fb’s guidelines towards hateful speech, on the identical time that the corporate grew to become a automobile of political exploitation by international actors.
Fb’s first check: coping with a 2015 Fb publish from Trump calling for a “complete and full shutdown” of Muslims getting into the US. Whereas some inside the company saw a strong argument that Trump’s feedback violated Fb’s guidelines towards spiritual hate speech, the corporate determined to maintain the publish up. Till then, most Fb workers had by no means earlier than grappled with the likelihood that their platform might be used to stoke such division by a politician for the best place of workplace.
“What do you do when the main candidate for president posts an assault … on [one of the] the most important faith[s] on the planet?” former Fb worker and Democratic lobbyist Crystal Patterson advised us.
And it wasn’t simply nationwide politicians Fb needed to fear about, however international adversaries, too. Regardless of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s preliminary post-election feedback dismissing the “pretty crazy idea” that fake news on the platform may have influenced the elections, it quickly grew to become clear that propaganda from Russian Fb accounts had reached millions of American voters — inflicting an unprecedented backlash and forcing the corporate to reckon with its culpability in influencing world politics.
Over time, Zuckerberg would acknowledge Fb’s function as what he called “the Fifth Property” — an entity as highly effective as the federal government and media in shaping the general public agenda — whereas on the identical time attempting to reduce the corporate’s function dictating the appropriate phrases of political speech.
To dump the burden of political duty going ahead, Fb shaped the Oversight Board in 2018, a Supreme Courtroom-like physique it set as much as weigh in on controversial content material choices — together with learn how to cope with Trump’s account. However the board is new, and we’re nonetheless studying how much power it has over Facebook. How a lot duty does Fb nonetheless should dictate the phrases of its personal platform? And might the board go far sufficient to vary the social media platform’s underlying engine: its advice algorithms?
We discover these questions on Fb’s function in moderating political speech in our fourth episode of Land of the Giants, Vox Media Podcast Community’s award-winning narrative podcast collection about probably the most influential tech firms of our time. This season, Recode and The Verge have teamed up over the course of seven episodes to inform the story of Fb’s journey to changing into Meta, that includes interviews with present and former executives.