Mark Zuckerberg built one of the world’s most powerful — if not the most powerful — radicalization engines in history. For years and years, his platform has algorithmically pushed people into ideological political bubbles and reinforced their existing worldviews. It has enabled and rewarded media organizations profiting off of hyper-partisan trash and outright disinformation. And it has looked the other way as conspiracy theories, such as QAnon, flourished on the site.
All the while, Zuckerberg was aware. But he defended his platform’s practices, while making a fortune, repeatedly hiding behind a commitment to free expression as reason to allow for poison to be injected into the American political conversation. But on Wednesday, Zuckerberg announced what can only be viewed as an about-face.
The Facebook chief observed on a call with investors — in which the company posted an $11.2 billion profit in Q4, an increase of more than 50% from the year prior — that “there has been a trend across society that a lot of things have become politicized and politics have had a way of creeping into everything.” (Hmm, I wonder what might have contributed to this!) “One of the top pieces of feedback that we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services,” Zuckerberg added.