Dec 13, 2017

Facebook's rough year

Photo: Chuck Kennedy / Axios

Some of Facebook's early champions are now its sharpest critics, says AP Tech Writer Barbara Ortutay.

Why it matters: This rough year for the tech industry opened with concerns about fake news and "filter bubbles," segued into pressure on Facebook and Twitter to clamp down on trolling and online harassment, and ended with congressional hearings into Russian use of the platforms to meddle in the election.

Some of those speaking out:

  • Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook vice president who joined the company in 2007, said at a Stanford Graduate School of Business talk last month that the company is "ripping apart the social fabric of how society works."
  • Sean Parker, the company's first president, told me at an Axios event in Philly last month that Facebook exploits a "vulnerability in human psychology" to addict users.
  • Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook and Google, wrote in The Guardian that the platforms use "persuasive techniques developed by propagandists and the gambling industry."

Facebook said in a statement: "We've done a lot of work and research with outside experts and academics to understand the effects of our service on well-being, and we're using it to inform our product development. ... We are willing to reduce our profitability to make sure the right investments are made."

  • Not all early investors are critical. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman acknowledged in an interview concerns around how social media systems are causing what he called "lightly addictive behavior." But, he added, "that's also been true of television, that's also been true of sugar."

Go deeper

Why the coronavirus pandemic is hitting minorities harder

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The coronavirus’ disproportionate impact on black and Latino communities has become a defining part of the pandemic.

The big picture: That's a result of myriad longstanding inequities within the health care system and the American economy.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 6,804,044 — Total deaths: 362,678 — Total recoveries — 2,788,806Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 1,909,077 — Total deaths: 109,497 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight coronavirus, CDC says Fauci: "Very concerned" about spread of virus amid George Floyd protests — Cities offer free testing for protesters.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model as use of robots accelerates.
  5. Business: Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.

In photos: George Floyd's North Carolina memorial service

The remains of George Floyd are brought into Cape Fear Conference B Church. Photo: Ed Clemente/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds gathered in Raeford, North Carolina to honor George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis nearly two weeks ago has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality.

The state of play: This is the second memorial for Floyd. A number of his family members remain in Raeford, including his sister. He was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, The News and Observer reports.