Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had given himself a challenge for this year. He wanted to host a number of public discussions about the future of technology in our society. The plan was to do that every week, but he has only done six this year so far.
Criticism of Zuckerberg
There was already a criticism of the Facebook CEO’s plan when he started. The Verge believed that Zuckerberg could have done something better with his time than spending it on live entertainment. Apparently, he thought so himself, because he did not succeed in doing more than six, instead of the approximately fifty pieces he wanted to do.
Moreover, the six discussions were not at all so public. It was partly recorded in advance and often not even an audience was present. The discussions were about journalism, history, health research, privacy and Facebook’s Oversight Board. It was not very diverse either: almost every time he met white men who had considerable influence in the tech industry.
The discussions were not about what Zuckerberg actually had in mind. Nothing about the role that the internet plays, what about jobs when artificial intelligence takes over part of it and then there is also climate change, which he also wanted to put high on the agenda. It never seemed to be on the agenda.
It is possible that Zuckerberg did not let many of his discussions take place, because he was already deeply involved in other discussions. For example about his fight with Elizabeth Warren, but even bigger: his fight with fake news and political advertisements.
Facebook is one of the few social platforms to give permission for political advertisements. Zuckerberg pulls his hands completely away from any interference. It is not up to tech companies to determine what is and what is not allowed, he believes. He sees his social platform as a sort of square where just about everyone can be who he is.
The Great Hack
There is still a fight against fake news, but Facebook does not check political ads for this. That this can have major consequences for election results, that became painfully clear in recent years, as can be seen in, among other things, the Great Hack documentary.
It is a shame that Zuckerberg has not been able to work well on his goals this year because it might have made him a little more sympathetic or at least better understood in the eyes of the public. It is a pity that the same public was not allowed to be present at the discussions that the CEO had so ambitiously envisioned.