Facebook ‘has a negative impact on society’ says Snapchat founder

‘Well-intentioned people inside their business have tried to make changes’, Spiegal said, pushing back on arguments that Facebook’s issues are inherent to big tech companies

Adam Smith
Thursday 28 October 2021 12:02 BST
Facebook makes hate ‘unquestionably worse’, says whistleblower

Snap CEO Evan Spiegal has said that Facebook has “found out time and again that it has a negative impact on society”.

It comes after Facebook has been the subject of numerous scandals because of the whistleblower Frances Haugen, who helped release a huge trove of documents from inside the company revealing its moderation problems with regards to human trafficking and international politics.

In an interview with The Economic Times, the founder of Snapchat pushed back against claims that the issues plaguing Facebook are inherent to all large technology companies – something that many experts have levied when approaching the regulation of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and other companies.

“I think the challenges that we’re seeing today are not necessarily problems faced by all of Big Tech. It is in particular, one large platform that has found out time and again that it has a negative impact on society that well-intentioned people inside their business have tried to make changes. That’s the problem that we’re really dealing with today. That business has really large influence and operates multiple very large platforms that reach billions of people”, Spiegal said.

Spiegal turned down an acquisition offer from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2013, saying that he had a “very different vision for the future”. The Independent has reached out to Facebook for comment.

In the UK, the government is developing an Online Safety bill, which would force social media companies to regulate “legal but harmful” content. Although successful in forcing companies to implement policy rules in other areas, such as protections for children, experts have said that the government’s vague language may result in draconian, or unenforceable, policies.

“The difficult and most frustrating thing is that in the technology industry, things move so quickly and have such a large impact that unless you take a moral responsibility from the beginning, when you’re developing it, the regulation is usually far too late. So I’m not sure what this means for the future”, Spiegal said.

“But I think what will be vitally important going forward is that all technology companies, anyone working on new technology products, think from the beginning about the impact on society and making sure they’re doing the right thing to serve not only the community of people using their products, but the broader world.”

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