Zuckerberg answers alternative allegations

A lot of words, sure, but not much said: Mark Zuckerberg has written this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. It’ll be in print on Friday.

Here’s an excerpt that caught my eye:

Another question is whether we leave harmful or divisive content up because it drives engagement. We don’t. People consistently tell us they don’t want to see this content. Advertisers don’t want their brands anywhere near it. The only reason bad content remains is because the people and artificial-intelligence systems we use to review it are not perfect—not because we have an incentive to ignore it. Our systems are still evolving and improving.

I don’t think anyone has credibly accused Facebook of this, actually.

Rather, people (correctly) state that Facebook – through algorithms that are designed to reward engagement – promotes posts that have got a lot of people clicking or commenting. That formula breeds the spread of divisive posts, whether it’s about Donald Trump or the colour of a dress.

Facebook seems to be developing a habit of answering allegations by first subtly altering the specifics of the complaint.

Tin foil hat time: as I’m writing this, we’re awaiting some likely-negative news to drop about Facebook. Is the company trying to seize the news agenda? It’ll need something a bit more substantial than this, if so.