Social Media can do a lot of things – connect old friends, help charities connect with donors, help people find recommendations, keep us connected and help keep us informed. It can be used for lots of good things but it can also be used for very bad things, terrible things and we’re currently in a time where this seems to be happening regularly.
The same networks that connect us can be used to tear us apart, misinformation and manipulation are causing irreparable damage to countries, governments and people. We’ve seen Russia use stolen data in advertising campaigns to spread misinformation which arguably affected the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election. This is a story worthy of a Hollywood film that has played out in real life and has had and will have lasting effects.
I recently published a podcast episode on Social Responsibility and while preparing for it I was searching for articles in Facebook’s Newsroom when I came across one called Removing Myanmar Officials from Facebook. The article reports that Facebook discovered and removed multiple Pages and accounts that were engaging in inauthentic behavior on Facebook in Myanmar. It calls this behavior coordinated and goes on to say that the Pages and accounts although seemly normal businesses or informational Pages had links to the Myanmar Military and were spending misinformation intended to mislead and insight hate. These account and Pages were followed by an estimated 12 million people. The Myanmar Military is accused of serious human rights abuses against the Rohingya people with an estimated 750,000 Rohingya driven across the border into Bangladesh and tens of thousands killed.
Facebook provide a platform that allows anybody to connect and create content. They create terms of service and even with all their resources, technology and teams and teams of people moderating they still miss things and can usually only react to their platform being used to promote propaganda. Sure, they can remove content but is it too late, has the damage been done?
More than two billion people use Facebook and I truly believe that the majority of users are there for good but there are forces in the world that are trying to hurt good, they are working against good and it sometimes seems like they are winning. But we can’t let that stop us, we have to work to spread the good and celebrate it.