Facebook’s Zuckerberg Pens 5700-Word Manifesto On Fake News, Censorship And The Perils Of Isolationism

Are you looking for new reading material to keep you busy this weekend? If so, you might consider a 5,700-word manifesto written by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It's titled "Building Global Community" and it covers a range of topics on what is needed to build a better, more supportive and civically-engaged community. Though it's a relatively long read (compared to most of Zuckerberg's posts), it's actually shorter than an earlier version that appeared online.

The earlier version included Zuckerberg's belief that artificial intelligence could eventually be used to monitor private messages by terrorists who are planning an attack. That bit was ultimately redacted, though the final draft still includes ways AI can be helpful in combating terrorism.

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"Right now, we're starting to explore ways to use AI to tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda so we can quickly remove anyone trying to use our services to recruit for a terrorist organization. This is technically difficult as it requires building AI that can read and understand news, but we need to work on this to help fight terrorism worldwide," Zuckerberg said.

In a section titled "Informed Community," Zuckerberg touched on the topic of fake news, which he says is one of the two most discussed concerns this past year (the other being filter bubbles relating to the diversity of viewpoints). Fake news articles have been an ongoing problem for Facebook, and with so many eyeballs starting at the social network on a daily basis, fake news isn't just an annoyance, it can be harmful.

The tough part for Facebook is managing fake news while at the same time presenting diverse viewpoints. The goal, according to Zuckerberg, is to present a more complete picture of what's going on, and not just alternate perspectives.

"We must be careful how we do this. Research shows that some of the most obvious ideas, like showing people an article from the opposite perspective, actually deepen polarization by framing other perspectives as foreign. A more effective approach is to show a range of perspectives, let people see where their views are on a spectrum and come to a conclusion on what they think is right. Over time, our community will identify which sources provide a complete range of perspectives so that content will naturally surface more," Zuckerberg added.

As to filtering hoax content on Facebook, Zuckerberg said it's something he and his team take very seriously. He also said that Facebook has made progress in this area, but admitted there is more work to do. What makes this difficult is that there isn't always a clear line between hoaxes, satire, and opinion.

Facebook has a global audience and with that comes a responsibility to avoid contributing to divisiveness and isolation. To that end, he wrote a great deal about making Facebook a more inclusive community. That is challenging not just because cultural norms are shifting, but also because Facebook "is evolving from its origin connecting us with family and friends to now becoming a source of news and public discourse as well."

Good stuff, though oddly missing from his manifesto is a section on how to improve the quality of food pictures.