Writing in a blog post, Facebook’s civic engagement product manager, Samidh Chakrabarti, addressed many of the criticisms launched against the company regarding its effect on democracy. From foreign government interference to the spread of fake news and the echo chamber effect, Chakrabarti said many of the issues people raise over these concerns don’t have clear answers. However, Chakrabarti says that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t have a “moral duty” to look into them:
If there’s one fundamental truth about social media’s impact on democracy, it’s that it amplifies human intent–both good and bad. At its best, it allows us to express ourselves and take action. At its worst, it allows people to spread misinformation and corrode democracy.
I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t. That’s why we have a moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil and trustworthy as possible.
This is a new frontier and we don’t pretend to have all the answers. But I promise you that my team and many more here are dedicated to this pursuit. We’ll share what we learn and collaborate with you to find the answers.