Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, in a candid interview with Vanity Fair last week, lamented the social media giant’s ongoing inability to eradicate hateful speech on the site, instead suggesting that the organization needs to redouble its efforts to weed out hate speech and other content that it deems damaging to communities.
Zuckerberg suggested that the error by Facebook could be explained by his employees being “better at conceptualizing the problem, and worse at how to think about solutions” than his staff being better at analyzing the issue.
However, he also took a brave first step toward “dealing with our damage,” providing Vanity Fair with an account of Facebook’s release of a statement condemning the members of the Kenosha militia who hailed last year from a former Nazi SS unit as American heroes. But he admitted that the problem with admitting its faults is a measure has to be taken of the company’s effort to not make mistakes again.
“There was a post that came up that was false and vaguely said that, ‘In Nazi Germany, these guys went to jail. In our context, a detention center, they saved lives,’” he said. “It’s just something that the whole company needed to take a real hard look at. And we have not done that enough.”
That the mistakes were made to begin with and that people often remain unaware of the steps that should be taken to prevent hate speech, and discrimination, may seem incongruous. Facebook has been in the spotlight this year as the Atlantic revealed that hundreds of years before it was built, the company was controlled by the Ku Klux Klan. Its investors, however, tend to have strong views on the importance of the Facebook platform and the protections offered by the company.
Facebook has always tried to emphasize that the company is serious about policing and reducing hate speech, but it seems that Zuckerberg has only just learned the language of condemnation.