Mark Zuckerberg has been tackling a personal goal every year for nearly a decade, but this year the Facebook CEO is going to focus on something a bit different — fixing Facebook. In a post on Thursday, January 4, Zuckerberg listed several of the challenges the platform has faced in 2017 as his focus for 2018, admitting that the network makes too many mistakes, specifically errors in preventing abuse and enforcing policies.
“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent,” he wrote. “My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we’re successful this year then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory.”
Zuckerberg could take his pick from a number of different issues the network has faced over 2017, all spanning multiple categories, several of which he mentions in his post (and to be fair, 2017 wasn’t a great year for social media in general, with #WomenBoycottTwitter and cartoon violence slipping through on YouTube Kids, to name a few others). Facebook testified before Congress in 2017 on Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, later creating stricter guidelines for political ads.
Hate speech is another topic on Zuckerberg’s list. In 2017, a glitch in the advertising system meant that when users manually typed racial slurs into the profile fields, advertisers could limit their audience to “jew haters.” ProPublica, an investigative journalism organization, showed inconsistency on whether or not hate speech is removed. An automated post encouraging users to join Instagram inadvertently used an image of a death threat.
Zuckerberg also discusses encryption and cryptocurrency as possible technologies to consider as tools to give more power to individual users over big corporations and government.
The pledge to fix a number of different issues on Facebook is different from the CEO’s previous personal goals — which have included visiting all every U.S. state, running 365 miles, and designing an artificial intelligence system for his home. “This may not seem like a personal challenge on its face, but I think I’ll learn more by focusing intensely on these issues than I would by doing something completely separate,” he wrote.
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