Facebook may be pushing US into civil war, warns ex-boss
FACEBOOK may be pushing the United States towards a second civil war by amplifying the most divisive voices in pursuit of profit, a former employee has claimed.
Tim Kendall, Facebook’s first director of monetisation, told the US Congress yesterday that the company had used “Big Tobacco” tactics to make its product as addictive as possible without regard for its social impact.
He compared the social media giant’s content ranking algorithms, which have been widely accused of deepening partisan divides by prioritising anger and controversy, to an arms dealer who supplies both sides of a conflict.
It comes after reports that some of Facebook’s current employees are concerned about its group recommendation system, which experts believe has directed potentially millions of people towards extremist groups. Mr Kendall said: “When I started working in technology, my hope was to build products that brought people together in new and productive ways. I wanted to improve the world we all lived in.
“Instead, the social media services that I and others have built over the past 15 years have served to tear people apart with alarming speed and intensity.
“At the very least, we have eroded our collective understanding; at worst, I fear we are pushing ourselves to the brink of a civil war …
“Social media is not the root cause of every problem we’re facing. But I believe it may be the most powerful accelerant in history. These services are making us sick. These services are dividing us.”
Facebook declined to comment. The hearing was part of a general attack by US politicians on “section 230”, the law that effectively created modern social media by broadly exempting them from liability for what others post on their services.
A Senate committee said it would issue subpoenas to the chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter to testify about the law on Oct 1.
Meanwhile, yesterday it emerged that the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler, who claimed Mark Zuckerberg swiped their idea to create Facebook, have expanded Gemini, their cryptocurrency exchange, into the UK.
‘The social media services that I and others have built over the past 15 years have served to tear people apart’