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.
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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