The Iron Grip of Facebook’s Tentacles


Facebook’s power is portrayed in this one graph. Vladan Joler, leading the research, reveals the common denominator that drives the company’s momentum — the user:

All of us, when we are uploading something, when we are tagging people, when we are commenting, we are basically working for Facebook.

Source: Share Lab

Facebook’s guide to content moderation was recently leaked by The Guardian. It powerfully demonstrates that Facebook is, well, a media platform, not a common carrier. And that the company is making some pretty strong judgments previously governed by law or social consensus, rather than the fiat of a single firm (a firm essentially controlled by a single individual).

Facebook is increasing its number of content moderators to 7,500 (from 4,500), but that doesn’t suggest it is taking its power very seriously. Facebook pays its moderators about $600 for a 40-hour week (according to this excellent reportage by Olivia Solon). The total moderation bill will run to about $250m per annum — about one percent of Facebook’s profit.

A firm as important as Facebook, which enjoys increasing gross margins in excess of 85%, has enough latitude to invest more heavily in addressing the issues raised by its own power. The investment should be accompanied with greater data transparency and a more open, collegial approach to evaluating and dealing with the problems.

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