Facebook should take responsibility for its content

This is Facebook's Frankenstein moment. The social media major is being hated by governments for allegedly promoting hate speech. The Sri Lankan government believes Facebook is responsible for fuelling anti-Muslim riots in the country, and has banned the network until it agrees to block hate-speech more quickly. United Nations investigator Yanghee Lee has referred to Facebook as a vehicle of 'acrimony, dissension and conflict', and accused the company of playing a lead role in possible genocide in Myanmar by spreading hate speech. Lee is not alone or the first one to level such serious charges on the 2.16-billion strong social media company. Various experts and governments would nod in agreement with her statement, as policymakers try to overcome the unique challenges posed by the social media, particularly Facebook. In January, Germany enacted a law that will fine companies that don't take down problematic content within 24 hours of it being reported. In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged tech companies to be socially more responsible.
It's a shame how social media platforms that were once a force of social cohesion have turned into a fractious battleground full of echo chambers and hate speech. Facebook, in particular, because of its sheer force of numbers has empowered the bitter, the radical, and polarised people more than anyone else. There are no bridges of reconciliation on social platforms, only buttons to report and block, leaving no space for peace or rapprochement. Civility is occasional as anonymity often encourages vitriolic comments and online abuse. Insecurities are being exploited and fake news spreads fast. There are no proper checks in place to stop the menace. Facebook's founder and top executives have said at different occasions that they never intended to or anticipated the platform to be used in the way it is being exploited now. Regulating this space might provide some solutions. More importantly, tech companies must take greater responsibility for the type of content shared on its platforms, and the impact they are having on the world.




More news from OPINION
KT Long Read: Watch this space

Opinion

KT Long Read: Watch this space

Major disruptions in the global space industry, including in India that recently liberalised the sector, are heralding an emergence of a whole new world: ramifications will be wide-ranging, high-yielding — and ultimately benefit humanity

Opinion1 week ago