Edward Snowden has spoken out about Facebook’s role in the US presidential election, saying that the social network is “dangerous” as a result of many relying on it as their sole news platform.
Speaking during the Fusion Real Future Fair, the notorious whistleblower discussed the damaging impact Facebook is having on how we receive news. “There seems to be no alternative to the larger services,” he said, adding: “Because of this network effect, because the first mover advantage. When you get a Google or a Facebook or Twitter in place, they never seem to leave.”
Facebook was heavily criticized following the US election results, with many feeling that the publishing of fake news on the social network could have swayed voter opinion. Founder Mark Zuckerberg was outspoken against these claims, saying that less than one per cent of news hosted on site was fake. It has since outlined plans to stop supporting sites hosting fake news posts on their ad network, echoing Google’s plans to pull fake news sites from the Google AdSense program.
Snowden continued to elaborate upon his thoughts regarding the impact of social media on news, saying:”When one service provider makes a bad decision we all suffer for it. … The Silicon Valley desire for massive, world-eating services, the scale that takes over not only our country but all others, it’s asking us to accept a status quo where we set aside that competition in favor of scale. We should be particularly cautious about embracing this and taking this to be the case.”
Snowden suggested that the current system of users relying upon one social network service for their news could be replaced by a more robust collection of networks, in which news could be aggregated across various social media sites in order for the more pertinent stories to rise to the top, and fake or biased news to sink to the bottom. “To have one company that has enough power to reshape the way we think — I don’t think I need to describe how dangerous that is,” he concluded.