You are well beyond Plausible Deniability!

I have been dealing with Facebook's lack of concern for users since 2008. Every day since, I have seen how little they care about users compared to the desire they have to make money off them. Yet time and time again when something goes wrong, we hear rhetoric from Mark Zuckerberg or the person he cowardly pushes into the media room that day.

This time it is Lena Pietsch! One of a long list of come and gone Directors of Policy Communication, who steps into the fold to spout the company line. A line which is deliberately manipulated to divert responsibility from the fact they continue to fail to truly address the concerns of users and cyber safety experts.

Lena addresses the most recent Facebook controversy, namely the release of thousands of documents by Frances Haugen who is a former employee of Facebook who worked on Civic Integrity.

For 13 years, I have been working at the coalface of juvenile internet use, with 6 of those years in Tech Crime. Since 2010, I have been working in schools, educating on the risks the internet presents to kids and younger Australians. I have seen and continue to see some horrific things. I have seen and continue to see families go through hell and I can state quite clearly, one thing which has remained a constant; Facebook does not care!

Over the past decade, 3 people I tried to help have taken their own lives because of the hatred spewed on Facebook and Instagram. Hatred they could not escape because Facebook failed to act. Anyone (and everyone) who has seen me speak, will know the passion I have for this subject. My heart has been broken countless times by the helplessness and despair of such events.

One of those people (a 16 year old girl), I begged the network, pleaded with them to remove content such as; "She deserves to die, like the dog she is" and "She should kill herself and do the world a favour!" 376 comments and posts, most liking and sharing the content. 46 reports - unanswered. 3 messages to executives - ignored. Eventually they did remove those posts, that was seven days after her funeral!

So I hope readers forgive me for getting a little triggered when I hear those at the helm of Facebook utter sentences such as; "To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing, is just not true." - Lena Pietsch, Director of Policy Communications Facebook

"What is the point of reporting, nothing ever happens?", "Who can I speak with at Facebook to get help?", "Why aren't they doing anything?". These are the questions I get every single day from parents, teachers and kids. Most, if not all of these people will agree 100%, that you are doing absolutely nothing! "If any research had identified an exact solution to these complex challenges, the tech industry, governments, and society would have solved them a long time ago." - Lena Pietsch

This statement from Pietsch has particularly infuriated me! It's deflective nature and total disregard for taking ownership for seeking a solution is abhorrent. Facebook is relying on others to fix the problem they have created through their own inaction and oversight. They are looking for others to force them to make change.

I totally understand there isn't (and will never be) an "exact solution" to the issues social media sites and the internet in general present. Facebook will never be able to truly stop such content being posted, as much as they will not be able to stop human nature. But for one of the worlds most influential organisations to imply we should all just accept that is the way it is, is jaw-dropping.

Every and any approach to online user safety, must be seen as a piece in a puzzle. The more people contributing, the quicker that puzzle can be finished. But if some at the table are going to deliberately and stubbornly hold their pieces, is the puzzle every going to be solved? Facebook's response to users concerns has always been reactive. Time and time again, we have seen Zuckerberg sitting in Senate hearings or at tribunals stating "We should have done better!" or "We got it wrong there!" How much longer do we have to accept this?

Facebook has only ever offered token or belligerent responses toward Ethical Design. They have failed to adequately address the concerns which have been presented by experts and organisations across the globe. When they are challenged with true evidence as to that lack of ethical response by people such as Frances Haugen, they scream misrepresentation or try to discredit.

Perhaps I, a humble ex-copper living in little ol' WA can offer some advise which might help you make you network a bit better.

    1. Stop relying on 'machine learning' do do the work humans should be doing: Use it, go for it, but it should not be the main focus of moderation and control. Facebook has over 2 billion daily active users, yet they only have 22 thousand people working on moderation. That is 1 moderator per 90thousand users! At 6million posts per minute, how are they to keep up? Why is this acceptable? Would we as a society accept 1 security guard working at an MCG AFL Grand Final?
    2. Start spending money on more real people: Facebook earned $86billion in revenue last year. That is $2,725.00 a second. That is a rise of $40billion over the previous 3 years. In her response to the Frances Haugen investigation, Lena Pietsch states; "We have invested heavily in people to keep our platform safe." "Heavily"!, compared to what? If it is in comparison to your profit margin, then that is a blatant lie. Paying 1500 untrained and inexperienced people in India and the Philippines $200 a month to moderate content does not reflect truth in that statement.
    3. Introduce complaint resolution: Mr Zuckerberg, spend some decent money and have the guts to actually listen to the users who have made you your billions. Set up a base in every state and country and add phone numbers where people can speak to a representative. Find the courage to add email addresses to the network where people can actually get a response from a real person, instead of having to scroll through the endless loop of ignored reporting options. Have the courage to listen to the concerns of users instead of hiding behind software based reporting like you have been doing for the past 16 years.

This lack of true accountability for the protection of users in online environments has gone on long enough. We should no longer accept the creation of such playgrounds unless they have adequately addressed the foundations of Ethical Design and Safety by Design.

We must continue to challenge organisations such as Facebook to do more. Not just enough, but more! Ethics and morals should always come before profit, but for too long this has not been happening.