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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
With his decision to emphasize encrypted messaging, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has effectively accepted that the fight to police the platform against bad actors and other excesses can't be won.
Zuckerberg might not have made such a climactic decision unless pushed commercially — some 15 million Americans stopped using Facebook last year, according to a new study, and Wired's Molly Wood calls Zuckerberg's move an effort to get in front of a coming "collapse" of his core business.
But the shift also coincides with intense global public and political pressure over unabated abuse of the platform to spread hate, divide societies, traffic in humans and commit murder, all of which proved exceedingly difficult to stop.
What's happening: Zuckerberg announced the move last week in a long blog post, setting Facebook on a course of building out a private, encrypted dimension of the platform that will ultimately eclipse the current public square.
"Facebook was originally not designed as a public medium, so I think a return to its original friends-and-family focus makes sense for them to better match their users’ expectations," Deb Roy, a professor at MIT and former chief media scientist at Twitter, tells Axios.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said:
"That’s a fundamental misreading of the announcement. First, as we’ve repeatedly made clear, we have built new products, hired tens of thousands of new people to keep our platform safe, and are a different company than we were in 2016. Second, as Mark pointed out, this announcement will take a real amount of time to implement and public sharing on social networks will always be important."
In a previous post, we asked experts to imagine a world without Facebook. None could — all found the platform too useful to too many people, and they admonished any government that would try to take it down.
Just a half-year later, it's hard to find any clear Facebook defenders — and that's the case with Zuckerberg's attempt at reform as well. Here are a couple of questions I heard while canvassing experts:
Can Zuckerberg be believed at all?
But, if he can be believed, will the situation only become worse?
The home office. Photo: Getty
In one of the biggest remote hiring pushes in memory, Amazon has 3,000 jobs open for remote customer service representatives. But there are caveats.
Erica writes: As we've reported, a much overlooked reason why millions of Americans are out of work is that they live too far from jobs, and they either can't afford to or are unwilling to move.
But, but, but: The Amazon customer service jobs, available in 18 states, are temporary, a company spokesperson said, with no career ladder. And they will be just an average of 20–29 hours per week at $15 an hour, which is the company's minimum wage.
Amazon already has its hand in a very different kind of remote work: Companies use its Mechanical Turk platform to find freelancers for small, usually menial online tasks, for which they pay very little. The crowdsourcing platform had half a million registered workers in 2015.
Photo: Joel Saget/Contributor/Getty
Agriculture accounts for 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And 65% of that comes from the belches and farts of cattle and other farm animals, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
How the internet travels across oceans (Adam Satariano — NYT)
What Google knows about you (Ina Fried — Axios)
U.S. companies helped Huawei rise (Shunsuke Tabeta — Nikkei Asian Review)
Secrets of the world's greatest art thief (Michael Finkel — GQ)
Cause of the Chinese slowdown (Christopher Balding — Foreign Affairs)
Twins in Juarez, Mexico. Photo: Mark Jay Goebel/Getty
Most of your memories before the age of 3 flash through your mind in fragments. All you remember is the color of the plastic shovel in the sandbox or the crackle of the bonfire on a camping trip.
Erica writes: There's a reason why we forget our childhood memories. In fact, your brain needs to forget in order to grow, reports Nautilus.