By Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Public Policy and Communications
Today we’re starting something new.
Facebook is where people post pictures with their friends, get their news, form support groups and hold politicians to account. What started out as a way for college students in the United States to stay in touch is now used by nearly 2 billion people around the world. The decisions we make at Facebook affect the way people find out about the world and communicate with their loved ones.
It goes far beyond us. As more and more of our lives extend online, and digital technologies transform how we live, we all face challenging new questions — everything from how best to safeguard personal privacy online to the meaning of free expression to the future of journalism worldwide.
We debate these questions fiercely and freely inside Facebook every day — and with experts from around the world whom we consult for guidance. We take seriously our responsibility — and accountability — for our impact and influence.
We want to broaden that conversation. So today, we’re starting a new effort to talk more openly about some complex subjects. We hope this will be a place not only to explain some of our choices but also explore hard questions, such as:
- How should platforms approach keeping terrorists from spreading propaganda online?
- After a person dies, what should happen to their online identity?
- How aggressively should social media companies monitor and remove controversial posts and images from their platforms? Who gets to decide what’s controversial, especially in a global community with a multitude of cultural norms?
- Who gets to define what’s false news — and what’s simply controversial political speech?
- Is social media good for democracy?
- How can we use data for everyone’s benefit, without undermining people’s trust?
- How should young internet users be introduced to new ways to express themselves in a safe environment?
As we proceed, we certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with all the choices we make. We don’t always agree internally. We’re also learning over time, and sometimes we get it wrong. But even when you’re skeptical of our choices, we hope these posts give a better sense of how we approach them — and how seriously we take them. And we believe that by becoming more open and accountable, we should be able to make fewer mistakes, and correct them faster.
Our first substantive post, later today, will be about responding to the spread of terrorism online — including the ways we’re working with others and using new technology.
We want your input on what other topics we should address — and what we could be doing better. Please send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. See future Hard Questions posts at hardquestions.fb.com.