Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday morning, Facebook Vice President for Global Affairs Nick Clegg dodged and weaved as host Dana Bash pressed him over accusations that his social media platform had a hand in promoting the Jan 6th Capitol riot.
Doing damage control for the social media monolith after whistleblower Frances Haugen exposed their business practices and bluntly stated that the company puts profits over the safety of their users, Clegg was confronted by the CNN host over the accusations which culminated with questions about the pro-Donald Trump riot.
"I have to ask, Frances Haugen is now poised to meet with the January 6th committee. I understand you have said only those who broke the law in and around January 6th are to blame," Bash began. "But just a simple, yes or no: Did Facebook's algorithms amplify or spread pro-insurrection voices ahead of January 6?"
"Let me be clear because there's been a lot of, I think, misleading discussion about what the algorithms do," Clegg parried. "There are hundreds and thousands of them in Facebook as much as there are in many online companies. but what the ranking algorithms do, in other words, that's the crucial algorithms that help decide what you see more prominently on your news feed, on Facebook, than other pieces of content. If you remove the algorithms, which I think is one of Frances Haugen's recommendations, what you would see is more, not less, hate speech, more, not less, algorithms. These work as a giant spam filter to deprecate bad content. Of course, it has a downside but it also has a very positive effect."
"With regard to January 6, did the algorithms that are in place amplify pro-insurrection voices ahead of January 6? " the CNN host attempted again.
"I can't give you an answer for individual personalized feeds that each person uses," the Facebook executive demurred. "We work with law enforcement, of course, to give them content that might show up on our platform. January 6, the responsibility for that is the people who broke the law, who inflicted the violence, who aided and abetted in the media -- ."
"I understand that," Bash interrupted. "But is it a problem that you're not really sure if your platform allowed it to fester and amplify what ended up as this huge attack?"
"What I was simply saying is that the algorithm, the whole point, of course, of Facebook is that each person's newsfeed is individual to them," he replied. "It's like an individual fingerprint, and that's basically determined by the interaction of your choice, your friends, your family, the groups you choose to be part of and those ranking individuals I talked about. What I can say is where we see content we think is relevant to the investigations of law enforcement, of course, we cooperate with them."
CNN 10 10 2021 09 02 52 youtu.be