I expressed my fear that with Facebook’s help, Mr. Trump will win the 2020 election. The recent hiring of a right-wing figure to help manage its news tab has reinforced those fears. In my comments in Davos, I also pointed out that Facebook has been used to cause worse damage in other countries than the United States. In Myanmar, for example, military personnel used Facebook to help incite the public against the Rohingya, who were targeted in a military assault of incredible cruelty including murder, rape and the burning of entire villages: Around 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh. The International Court of Justice in The Hague is currently deliberating whether these atrocities qualify as genocide.
But within the last year, Facebook has introduced new features on its mobile app that actually intensify the fire of incendiary political attacks — making them easier and quicker to propagate. The system is cost-free to the poster and revenue-generating for Facebook. Good for Facebook, bad for democracy.
The responsible approach is self-evident. Facebook is a publisher not just a neutral moderator or “platform.” It should be held accountable for the content that appears on its site.