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Shrink Facebook to Save the World

This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. Here is the collection past columns

Facebook apps are popular almost all over the world. But we could all be better off if they weren’t.

The company’s most embarrassing human sacrifices – its contributions to violence, human trafficking and abuse by authoritarian governments – have largely occurred in countries outside North America and Western Europe, such as India, Honduras, Myanmar, Ethiopia and the Philippines.

What if Facebook retreated from many countries, where his social network and Instagram and WhatsApp apps have done serious harm, even though they gave the right to vote to those who do not have a voice?

Years of horrific headlines have not made Facebook consistent progress in solving its problems. It may be time for the company to simply leave countries like Myanmar and Azerbaijan until it devotes the same level of money, attention and cultural competence to its presence in those places as it gives to its presence in the United States and France. (And Facebook is far from perfect in rich countries.)

I don’t blame those of you who think an American like me is elitist for suggesting that after “Facebook broke democracy in many countries around the world,” Filipino journalist Maria Ressa said said, people in those places would be better off without a website.

But maybe we should all ask ourselves radical questions about the horrors of Facebook: is a better Facebook a realistic option, or is a smaller Facebook the solution? But what if no one can or should operate an extremely powerful and lightning-fast communication mechanism for billions of people in almost every country?

There is a deep irony in my suggestion that a less global Facebook might be better. The ability of individuals to use the network to express themselves, cooperate, and resist authority is more significant in places where institutions are weak or corrupt and where citizens do not have a voice. It’s also where Facebook has done the most harm and where the company and the world have paid the least attention.

I felt a grim familiarity reading The Wall Street Journal. series of articles about Facebook – especially that detailed how its employees tackle persistent abuse in developing countries, including the way drug cartels use Facebook apps to recruit hitmen and governments use the web to incite ethnic violence.

Three years after the UN concluded that the Myanmar military turned a social network into a genocide propaganda tool, writes The Journal making report suggested that Facebook made some of the same mistakes, and allowed it to be repeated again in Ethiopia.

The magazine wrote that, as in Myanmar, Facebook employees and computerized systems were unable to understand the dialects of most of the messages, which were encouraging. violence against a persecuted ethnic groupwhich the US government said was the target of ethnic cleansing. Ethiopians and Facebook employees have warned the company of this risk.

How many times do you need to read similar tales from Sri Lanka, Honduras or Philippines before you conclude that Facebook may not be able to operate effectively in places where people are most vulnerable to online abuse?

Facebook tends to claim that it devotes significant resources outside of its home country to identify and remove accounts that spread dangerous propaganda or are otherwise used to mislead or harm people.

It’s hard to imagine Facebook leaving the world of its own accord, but it won’t be a catastrophic financial blow to the company. While it’s true that the vast majority of Facebook users are outside the US, Canada, and Europe, two-thirds of Facebook’s revenue comes from these regions.

Likewise, Amazon makes about 90 percent of its revenues in just four countries – the US, Germany, the UK and Japan – and few believe the company’s global concentration is holding it back.

Running a global Internet company is not easy. But it’s also hard to see Facebook being used as a tool for ethnic violence and authoritarian abuse, and to accept that it’s a legitimate lack of connecting the world.

  • The new iPhones are BEAUTIFUL: Brian X. Chen says the iPhone 13 “may be the most gradual iPhone upgrade… ”(You can see pictures of his dogs with the latest models.) It’s okay if new phones are like that. Brian writes that you can keep your phone for years without worrying about missing out on anything important.

  • We cannot look away. Is it good or bad? My colleague Katie Rosman explains why the media and crowds of online detectives on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter are obsessed with the disappearance of 22-year-old Gabrielle Petito.

  • Wow, everyone is crazy about this new company with timeshare: Residents of mostly affluent neighborhoods such as Malibu and Sonoma, California, fear that their neighborhoods are crumbling startup Pacaso, which allows people to buy second homes with strangers, Vice News reported. The people who own multimillion-dollar homes are concerned that the wrong people are buying other multimillion-dollar homes.

A group of young naturalists from New Zealand found a fossil that turned out to be contain the skeleton of a previously unknown species of ancient giant penguin… What did YOU find during your walk today?

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