WEL­COME TO A FA­CE­BOOK WORLD

Fa­ce­book : une crois­sance qui s'ac­com­pagne de dé­fis majeurs

Vocable (Anglais) - - La Une - DA­VID PIERSON

Quand Fa­ce­book est né, qui au­rait pu pré­dire un tel suc­cès ? Sa crois­sance phé­no­mé­nale, son en­trée en bourse, son om­ni­pré­sence dans le quo­ti­dien de tant de per­sonnes… Cette réus­site n’est pas sans sou­le­ver quelques in­ter­ro­ga­tions, à la fois sur son mode de fonc­tion­ne­ment, ses va­leurs et son ave­nir. Fa­ce­book, Big Bro­ther mo­derne ou ou­til dé­mo­cra­tique ?

In 2011 as Fa­ce­book in­ched ever clo­ser to 1 bil­lion ac­tive month­ly users, it fa­ced a vexing cri­sis: uproar about a fa­cial re­cog­ni­tion al­go­rithm that tag­ged people in pho­tos wi­thout their consent. Six years la­ter, and as Fa­ce­book nears the 2-bil­lion-user mi­les­tone, that com­plaint al­most seems quaint.

2.Con­si­der the pro­blems fa­cing the world’s big­gest so­cial net­work to­day. The Men­lo Park, Ca­lif., com­pa­ny is ta­king fire for sprea­ding pro­pa­gan­da and mi­s­in­for­ma­tion, po­ten­tial­ly in­fluen­cing the out­come of elec­tions in the Uni­ted States and abroad. It’s being cri­ti­ci­zed for al­lo­wing hate and ter­ror groups to fo­ment on its plat­form. And it’s scram­bling to stamp out hor­ri­fic vi­deos of sui­cides and mur­ders strea­med live.

CON­NEC­TING PEOPLE

3. That these set­backs come at a time when Fa­ce­book now reaches a quar­ter of the globe’s po­pu­la­tion on­ly un­ders­cores how much the stakes have grown for the com­pa­ny. It connects people in ways ne­ver ex­pe­rien­ced be­fore, pro­vi­ding the on­ly out­let for free speech in some coun­tries. Fa­ce­book is one of the few com­pa­nies in Si­li­con Val­ley that can pro­claim wi­thout a hint of iro­ny that it has chan­ged the world.

4.Ar­med with en­or­mous power, the na­tion’s fifth-lar­gest com­pa­ny by mar­ket ca­pi­ta­li­za­tion has to take in­to ac­count both the needs of sha­re­hol­ders and the com­mu­ni­ties it serves. How Fa­ce­book na­vi­gates its jour­ney to­ward its next bil­lion users could por­tend not just the fi­nan­cial health of the com­pa­ny but al­so the health of the so­cie­ties in­crea­sin­gly in­fluen­ced by its pro­ducts. 5.“The more ma­ture their tools be­come, the more pro­found the challenges they have,” said Mike Hoef­flin­ger, a for­mer Fa­ce­book mar­ke­ting em­ployee who wrote “Be­co­ming Fa­ce­book,” a book about the com­pa­ny’s evo­lu­tion in­to a be­he­moth va­lued at $430 bil­lion. “My sense is that they’re ab­so­lu­te­ly ma­tu­ring in­to their role in the world,” Hoef­flin­ger conti­nued. “But the his­to­ry of Si­li­con Val­ley has taught us that no com­pa­ny, no mat­ter how great, can do­mi­nate fo­re­ver.”

CLUES

6. That vul­ne­ra­bi­li­ty — and a willin­gness to adapt — has ra­re­ly been more evident than since the 2016 pre­si­den­tial elec­tion. Against the ba­ck­drop of a bit­ter­ly di­vi­ded coun­try, Fa­ce­book, which did not re­spond to a re­quest for comment, has pro­vi­ded va­luable clues as to how it will be­have in the new po­li­ti­cal era.

7.Ini­tial­ly, Fa­ce­book foun­der and Chief Exe­cu­tive Mark Zu­cker­berg dis­mis­sed the no­tion that his plat­form hel­ped spread pro­pa­gan­da and par­ti­san click­bait that some say hel­ped Do­nald Trump win the elec­tion. Zu­cker­berg even went so far as to call the idea “cra­zy.” But as cri­ti­cism moun­ted, the 32-year-old exe­cu­tive be­gan ad­dres­sing the is­sue more for­ce­ful­ly and ac­cep­ting his plat­form’s role.

8.Fa­ce­book part­ne­red with in­de­pendent fact che­ckers to help vet content, it res­tric­ted ads from fake news sites and it tried to edu­cate users about how to spot hoaxes in se­ve­ral coun­tries un­der­going elec­tions, in­clu­ding in Bri­tain, Ger­ma­ny and France. To com­bat cri­ti­cism that Fa­ce­book on­ly for­ti­fies the echo cham­ber ef­fect on­line, the com­pa­ny is tes­ting a “Re­la­ted Ar­ticles” fea­ture that will give users more perspectives on the news. Zu­cker­berg was al­so com­pel­led to take ac­tion over the rise of live-strea­med vio­lence on Fa­ce­book’s po­pu­lar vi­deo broad­cas­ting plat­form.

9.Last month, Zu­cker­berg had to kick off the com­pa­ny’s an­nual de­ve­lo­pers confe­rence by of­fe­ring condo­lences for the mur­der of 74-yea­rold Ro­bert God­win Sr. in Cle­ve­land. Vi­deo of the crime was uploa­ded on­to Fa­ce­book by the gun­man, 37-year-old Steve Ste­phens, who la­ter brag­ged about the killing on Fa­ce­book Live. In res­ponse, Zu­cker­berg an­noun­ced plans to hire 3,000 more mo­de­ra­tors to screen content for dis­tur­bing ma­te­rial.

10.The ef­forts to crack down on fake news and ob­jec­tio­nable vi­deo al­so comes months af­ter Fa­ce­book, Mi­cro­soft, Twit­ter and YouTube agreed to share in­for­ma­tion to weed out ter­ro­rists and their content. That’s being done even as Fa­ce­book and others are de­flec­ting al­le­ga-

tions that tech­no­lo­gy com­pa­nies are com­pli­cit in ter­ro­rist at­tacks be­cause the per­pe­tra­tors use their plat­forms.

WHERE TO?

11. Vie­wed col­lec­ti­ve­ly, ob­ser­vers say the recent ac­tions by Fa­ce­book show a com­pa­ny deep in soul-sear­ching mode. They cite Zu­cker­berg’s swee­ping 5,600-word ma­ni­fes­to in Fe­brua­ry that argues Fa­ce­book can forge a glo­bal com­mu­ni­ty by ex­pan­ding the num­ber of users connec­ted on the plat­form through groups, like ones for pa­ren­ting or neigh­bo­rhoods. “Buil­ding a glo­bal com­mu­ni­ty that works for eve­ryone starts with the mil­lions of smal­ler com­mu­ni­ties and in­ti­mate so­cial struc­tures we turn to for our per­so­nal, emo­tio­nal and spi­ri­tual needs,” Zu­cker­berg wrote.

12.The hope is that those connec­tions will spill over in­to the phy­si­cal world to streng­then bonds bet­ween people — even if it means ta­king a break from Fa­ce­book. It’s so­me­thing of an an­ti­dote to the fee­ling of iso­la­tion for which so­cial me­dia is so of­ten bla­med.

WHO IS ZU­CKER­BERG TO­DAY?

13.“To im­ple­ment his ma­ni­fes­to, Zu­cker­berg might have to jump head­long in­to a po­li­ti­cal mi­ne­field, and even change his com­pa­ny’s en­tire bu­si­ness mo­del,” Is­rae­li his­to­rian Yu­val Noah Ha­ra­ri wrote in the Fi­nan­cial Times. “You can hard­ly lead a glo­bal com­mu­ni­ty when you make your mo­ney from cap­tu­ring people’s at­ten­tion and sel­ling it to ad­ver­ti­sers. Des­pite this, his willin­gness to even for­mu­late a po­li­ti­cal vi­sion de­serves praise.”

14. It’s a grown-up move for Zu­cker­berg, who has long been dog­ged by the re­pu­ta­tion (fair or not) that’s he’s a pe­tu­lant lea­der, thanks lar­ge­ly to his de­pic­tion in the 2010 Aa­ron Sor­kin film “The So­cial Net­work.”

15.Now Zu­cker­berg is more open­ly contem­pla­tive. He’s even been ac­ting like he’s cam­pai­gning for of­fice, at­ten­ding a ro­deo, plan­ting a com­mu­ni­ty gar­den and than­king po­lice du­ring a vi­sit to Dal­las. He’s had to de­ny ru­mors that he’s in­ter­es­ted in run­ning for pre­sident.

16.Zu­cker­berg’s at­tempts to quell its pro­blem with fake news and the like are all steps in the right di­rec­tion for mi­ti­ga­ting Fa­ce­book’s short­co­mings, ex­perts say. But the ques­tion in­va­ria­bly re­mains: How can Fa­ce­book ever have en­ough mo­de­ra­tors, fact-che­ckers or even so­phis­ti­ca­ted en­ough ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to back up its lof­ty in­ten­tions? “Two bil­lion users is a chal­lenge no com­pa­ny has ever had,” said Da­vid Kirk­pa­trick, chief exe­cu­tive of me­dia com­pa­ny Te­cho­no­my and au­thor of “The Fa­ce­book Ef­fect.” “Just dea­ling with sui­cide pre­ven­tion alone is a huge chal­lenge,” he ad­ded. “And free­dom of speech is such a mul­ti­fa­ce­ted is­sue that it could oc­cu­py all of Zu­cker­berg’s time.”

MO­NEY: WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

17. At some point, Kirk­pa­trick said, Fa­ce­book may struggle to ba­lance com­pe­ting in­ter­ests to keep its plat­form safe and grow users at the same time. And be­cause Fa­ce­book is a pu­bli­cly tra­ded com­pa­ny, Zu­cker­berg will be un­der conti­nual pres­sure to fa­vor the lat­ter. “They’re a com­pa­ny op­ti­mi­zed for pro­fit that re­ports to Wall Street, not Con­gress,” Kirk­pa­trick said. “I be­lieve they have good in­ten­tions and want to do the right thing. On the other hand, they want to keep gro­wing pro­fits by 50 percent eve­ry quar­ter. Those two things may in­crea­sin­gly come in­to conflict.”

18.Zu­cker­berg pro­ba­bly an­ti­ci­pa­ted this. He made sure that he would com­mand a ma­jo­ri­ty of the com­pa­ny’s vo­ting rights af­ter its ini­tial pu­blic of­fe­ring of stock in 2012. Then last year, he crea­ted a new class of non-vo­ting shares that would al­low him to give away his wealth but al­so main­tain control of the com­pa­ny. And in his pitch to in­ves­tors in the run-up to the pu­blic lis­ting, he let his prio­ri­ties be known. “We don’t build ser­vices to make mo­ney,” he wrote, “we make mo­ney to build bet­ter ser­vices.”

(New York Times)

At Fa­ce­book’s current rate of growth, News­week cal­cu­lates that the num­ber of ac­tive Fa­ce­book users will equal the current po­pu­la­tion of the world by the year 2048. Mark Zu­cker­berg.

(SIPA)

Ta­king the tour of Fa­ce­book’s of­fice in the US.

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