Although it’s users, the press, politicians. investors and the government all beg to differ, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said today that 2018 was a better year for the social net than one might think.
In an annual year end post on the site he runs, Zuckerburg said the company has changed the way it does business after a scandal-plagued year that drove away users, disappointed Wall Street and infuriated politicians with reports of foreign U.S. voter manipulation, wholesale sharing of user data, and the failure to quickly acknowledge and do something about the allegations.
“We’re a very different company today than we were in 2016, or even a year ago,” wrote Zuckerberg in the post. “We’ve fundamentally altered our DNA to focus more on preventing harm in all our services, and we’ve systematically shifted a large portion of our company to work on preventing harm.”
Facebooks’ numerous problems in 2018 include the targeting on FB of some racial and political groups in the U.S. by foreign agents trying to influence U.S. elections, The October revelation that 30 million FB users’ personal accounts were hacked, and that several firms had the ability to receive personal messages of FB users. These incidents caused users and investors to flee the service, and Washington D.C. to issue bi-partisan criticism of the site and its leaders.
Zuckerberg wrote that the measures they are taking to confront those problems will not immediately solve Facebook’s issues, but he hopes that more credit will be given towards them putting forward proposals to make the widely used social network safer and more transparent.
“For some of these issues, like election interference or harmful speech, the problems can never fully be solved,” he said. “They’re challenges against sophisticated adversaries and human nature where we must constantly work to stay ahead.” He noted that FB has built some of the most advanced systems in the world for catching and preventing bad actors from taking advantage of FB’s system, “and we will keep improving over the coming years.”
Zuckerberg says he learned much from dealing with the issues and that the social net is not done yet.
“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in 2018 and grateful to everyone who has helped us get here — the teams inside Facebook, our partners and the independent researchers and everyone who has given us so much feedback,” Zuckerberg said. “I’m committed to continuing to make progress on these important issues as we enter the new year.”