Mark Zuckerberg offered AI as a panacea for Facebook’s massive content problem during Tuesday’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees — but this is ultimately a false promise.
Leaning on the dispersion of artificial intelligence to detect and remove the kind of problem content that is drawing scrutiny to the social network invariably leaves room for Facebook to never fully or directly take responsibility for what’s happening on its platform — and worse, it will do this at scale.
About one hour into his marathon testimony, Facebook’s CEO unexpectedly gave up the “neutral platform” defense that Facebook, and so many other technology companies, have deployed to distance themselves from being held accountable for the problems on their platforms.
“In the past, we’ve been told that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the like are neutral platforms. … They bore no responsibility for the content,” Sen. John Cornyn told Zuckerberg. “Do you agree now that Facebook and the other social media platforms are not neutral, but bear some responsibility for the content?”
“I agree that we’re responsible for the content,” Zuckerberg answered. It was an astonishing concession. But it didn’t last.
Seconds later, he launched into a talking point about how AI could address undesirable content, effectively abdicating Facebook’s responsibility for the problem. He would return to this defense 10 more times before his testimony ended.
“In the future, we’re going to have tools that are going to be able to identify more types of bad…