Has Facebook improved or damaged the quality of our friendships?

Facebook has changed friendship – for the better and for the worse, reports Eli Gottlieb. But our strongest ties – with our best friends and confidantes – exist quite happily without Zuckerberg’s algorithms

Thursday 14 October 2021 00:15
<p>Facebook: causing more harm than good? </p>

Facebook: causing more harm than good?

Facebook’s had a rough couple of weeks. On Sunday 3 October, whistleblower Frances Haugen gave an extensive interview to 60 Minutes criticising the corporation’s prioritisation of profit over safety. On Monday 4 October, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram – all owned by Facebook, Inc – suffered an outage for several hours, affecting millions of users worldwide. On Tuesday 5 October, Haugen appeared before the US Senate and called for the minimum legal age for social media use to be raised from 13 to 17.

This capped an already trying month for Facebook. In mid-September, the Wall Street Journal began releasing the Facebook Files, an investigative series detailing the social media giant’s knowledge of harm it causes and its efforts to keep this knowledge from the public.

The series exposed, among other things, evidence of Facebook’s special treatment of celebrity users, which enable them to post content of kinds that result in suspension for regular users; attempts to cover up Instagram’s negative impact on the wellbeing of young users; failure to apply fixes to Facebook’s algorithm that would reduce the spread of harmful content; and ineffectual responses to alarms raised by employees about the use of its platforms by drug cartels and human traffickers.

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