Andrew Bosworth, who leads technological research at Meta and is set to become the tech giant’s CTO next year, pushed back against critics who accuse social media like Facebook of harming society by failing to police speech on their platforms.
“If your democracy can’t tolerate the speech of people, I’m not sure what kind of democracy it is,” he said in an interview with ‘Axios on HBO’, which was previewed on Sunday. He was responding to a statement by host Ina Fried that some people think tools like Facebook should not exist at all because they are “fundamentally unsafe”.
Bosworth rejected the notion that the democratization of public speech brought by the advance of social media should be reversed due to the threat of misinformation.
US-based social media, Facebook in particular, have been put under increased pressure to increasingly police their platforms so that they are not used by ‘malicious’ actors. The initial push came after the 2016 election based on the claim that Russia used memes to interfere with the political process. More recently, the justification for censorship was that misinformation about Covid-19 and health was running rampant online.
Bosworth reiterated his discomfort over attempts to turn Facebook into an arbiter of what speech should be considered malicious and banned. Even using third-party checkers to do the job is far from a perfect solution, he said.
“I am very uncomfortable with the idea that we possess fundamental rightness even in our most scientific centers of study to exercise that kind of power on a citizen, another human, and what they want to say, and who they want to listen to,” he said.
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