Fixing Facebook...What Zuckerberg is Missing
Mark Zuckerberg announced that his 2018 New Year's resolution was to "fix Facebook." But, based on his comments, it seems he's taking too narrow a view of what needs to be done.
After revelations that Facebook was the platform of choice for Russian hackers to influence the presidential election, it seems a patriotic choice for the CEO of Facebook. However, he also has a business reason: In an increasingly politicized environment with dark news cycles, depressing and contentious posts make Facebook less appealing. Engagement is down among users. And that lowering engagement could be the sign of a long-term trend.
Zuckerberg's statements have focused on making news feeds tighter, focusing on posts from friends and de-emphasizing content from unknown, unconnected sources--including advertisers. At a high level, Zuckerberg is right. Long term, downward trends can be threaten the platform. Additionally, the loosy-goosy nature of the news feed algorithm made it easy prey for malicious parties. But tightening news feeds is not enough.
Facebook also needs to perform textual analysis to discern tone of posts and the nature of interactions. The company can--and should--upgrade posts and connections which are more positive in nature. And this analysis does not need to create echo chambers of people who agree. You can create algorithms of people who disagree and debate in a respectful manner and enjoy their interactions. People will feel better and engage more in the platform. And believe it or not, making Facebook more positive place will also make people smarter.