Facebook Exec: Don't Blame Us for Misinfo, Blame Yourselves

Incoming Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth says individuals bear responsibility for the spread
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2021 7:20 AM CST

(Newser) – We all agree, for the most part, that the spread of misinformation has worsened today's politics and handling of contemporary health issues like COVID. What we may not all agree on, however, is the role that social media plays in promoting that spread. Andrew Bosworth, for instance, a longtime Facebook executive who's set to become chief technology officer of parent company Meta in 2022, blames society, not his social network, for magnifying the problem. "Individual humans are the ones who choose to believe or not believe a thing," Bosworth said during a Sunday interview with Axios on HBO. "They are the ones who choose to share or not share a thing."

Bosworth was asked specifically about Facebook's role in exacerbating vaccine hesitancy in the age of COVID, a question that made him bristle. "That's their choice," he said of Facebook users who opt to listen to bad information from family and friends rather than credible sources. "They are allowed to do that. You have an issue with those people. You don't have an issue with Facebook. You can't put that on me." He added that even if Facebook pumped "every single dollar" it had into fighting misinformation on its channels, someone would still find a way to exploit the system.

Insider cites two reports from September that shed light on the problem. One shows that troll operations working ahead of the 2020 election got their misinformation out to about 140 million Americans, while the second found that Facebook posts originating from iffy sources saw six times more user engagement than posts coming from reputable news sources. Still, Bosworth suggests it's a supply-and-demand issue that Facebook can't, and shouldn't, fully control. "People want that information," he said. "I don't believe that the answer is 'I will deny these people the information they seek and I will enforce my will upon them.' At some point the onus is, and should be in any meaningful democracy, on the individual." Watch his take here. (Read more Meta stories.)

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