Years of limited oversight and unchecked growth have turned Facebook into a force with incredible power over the lives of its two billion users. But the social network has also produced unintended social consequences — and they’re starting to catch up with it:
— House and Senate panels investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections have invited Facebook — along with Google and Twitter — to testify this fall . Facebook just agreed to give congressional investigators 3,000 political adspurchased by Russian-backed entities, and announced new disclosure policies for political advertising
— Facebook belatedly acknowledged its role purveying false news to its users during the 2016 campaign and announced new measures to curb it. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg even just apologized — more than 10 months after the fact — for calling the idea that Facebook might have influenced the election “pretty crazy.”
— The company has taken flak for a live video feature that was quickly used to broadcast violent crime and suicides; for removing an iconic Vietnam War photo for “child pornography” and then backtracking; and for allegedly putting its thumb on a feature that ranked trending news stories.
“There’s a general arrogance — they know what’s right, they know what’s best, we know how to make better for you so just let us do it,” said Notre Dame business professor Timothy Carone, who added that this is true of Silicon Valley giants in general. “They need to take a step down and acknowledge that they really don’t have all the answers.”