30 Questions That Facebook Has Yet to Answer
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 16 Apr 2018
Gaps in the testimony of Mark Zuckerberg at a US Senate hearing?
16 Apr 2018 – Prepared in the light of the Joint Hearing of the US Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee with the Senate Judiciary Committee entitled “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data” (Washington DC, 10 April 2018). Followed by a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee
The following questions can be considered in the light of widely disseminated video coverage of the hearings and the various commentaries made about the process. It is noteworthy, for example, that many of those represented at the hearings admitted to being Facebook users and had received campaign funds from Facebook (as well as other tech companies). The hearings had been primarily triggered by controversy aroused by alleged Russian interference in the US presidential elections of 2016 and by the role of Cambridge Analytica in the misuse of Facebook data on 87 million people. Concerns were also expressed regarding unforeseen misuse of Facebook by the campaigns of US presidential candidates (Barack Obama on social media; Donald Trump on social media).
The questions are each introduced as shown below, but are presented separately in much expanded form in the complete document. This also includes animated mappings of the set of questions as a means of evoking more integrative perspective on the set of questions as a whole.
- In placing considerable emphasis on the voluntary consent of users, to what extent is the process of giving consent (or withdrawing it) comprehensible, transparent, and freely made…?
- To what extent do issues relating to use of the Facebook interface in enabling popular consent (or its negation) echo those of democratic voting, notably with respect to…?
- To what extent is there increasing obligation to participate in such systems, despite their complexities and vulnerabilities…?
- Given the emphasis on invasion of privacy and non-consensual use of personal data…?
- Is it probable that non-participants in Facebook may come to be variously flagged (via their shadow profiles) through analysis of the pattern of Facebook friends and their contacts (Shadow profiles are the biggest flaw in Facebook’s privacy defense)…?
- Given the provocation in the US associated with interference in US elections by foreign powers (and its functional equivalents, whatever form these may take), are distinctions appropriately framed or ignored between…?
- Given the lack of provocation in the US associated with interference by the US in foreign elections (and its functional equivalents, whatever form these may take), are distinctions appropriately framed or ignored between the following…?
- Given that Facebook links 2.2 billion monthly active users globally (with only a percentage in the US), to what extent is Facebook complicit in use of its platform by non-US entities to interfere in the electoral processe of other countries…?
- Given the undeclared role of secrecy during the public hearing, to what extent was the testimony especially “circumspect” (namely far less than transparent) through being subject to…?
- Is there every probability that Facebook is unwittingly complicit in some undeclared agendas which it is necessarily required to deny…?
- To what extent should Facebook be recognized as operating as a proxy of US security services (knowingly or unknowingly), given the timeline of the emergence of Facebook in 2004 (as with the Google IPO in 2004) in the light of…?
- However unwelcome, how is the right to harass and pester through advertising via Facebook now recognized according to the legislation of different countries, and how is this to be distinguished from issues currently raised by sexual harassment…?
- Despite the concern of many with the cyberbullying…?
- Given the emphasis in the hearing on the avoidance of harm …?
- How questonable is the role of the community of users (as repeatedly emphasized in the testimony) whose reporting of abusive content is claimed to be the key to Facebook self-regulation (effectively through self-certification), in the light of…?
- Given the considerable emphasis in the hearing on blocking hate and discriminatory speech…?
- How are “hate” and “discrimination” to be distinguished from preferences, biases, discernment and legitmate concerns in the light of…?
- To what extent is the focus on “what users want“, as members of the Facebook community, based on…?
- Given the great emphasis placed on the declared principles of Facebook, and its commitments to implement remedial measures when inadequacies suggest that need…?
- Given the obviously limited range of perspectives evident in the Senate hearing — compared to those in the Facebook community of users — what questions from other perspectives were not effectively addressed, and how might they be determined and considered of relevance in the light of…?
- In an ecosystem of users of “many voices”, currently based to a remarkable degree on expression of “likes”, how likely is this to be inherently vulnerable over time in systemic terms in the light of…?
- In repeatedly placing emphasis on the Facebook community and its ecosystem of users, how is the systemic viability of that ecosystem to be understood in terms of…?
- Is there a strong case for highlighting the possibility of unrecognized cognitive biases within Facebook and its leadership in the light of…?
- Too readily denied, is there a “dark face” of Facebook — a hidden “shadow facet” to the culture cultivated by Facebook and its community, in the light of…?
- Given repeated indications of future dependence on artificial intelligence to detect problems and to resolve difficulties in improving the Facebook platform…?
- Why is use of artifical intelligence to cultivate complementarity between different voices not explicitly cultivated by Facebook, in the light of…?
- To what extent should Facebook be recognized as a primary feature of the anticipated emergence of a “global brain“, in the light of…?
- However speculative, to what extent are there fundamental psychosocial implications to Facebook as a brand name in the light of…?
- To what extent does Facebook now constitute a self-reflective mirror for society — one of the few — through which it observes itself, in the light of…?
- To what extent did the configuration of the hearing acquire symbolic dimensions of great significance in the light of historical parallels…?
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