Mark Zuckerberg is slammed for his ‘tone-deaf’ end of year message

Mark Zuckerberg has been slammed for his ‘tone-deaf’ end of year message after saying he sees progress for Facebook after a tumultuous year for the social media giant.

Capping a tumultuous year marked by data protection scandals and government probes, Zuckerberg said in his year-end message that he was ‘proud of the progress we’ve made’ in addressing Facebook’s problems. 

‘For 2018, my personal challenge has been to focus on addressing some of the most important issues facing our community – whether that’s preventing election interference, stopping the spread of hate speech and misinformation, making sure people have control of their information, and ensuring our services improve people’s well-being,’ he wrote on his Facebook page on December 28.

‘We’re a very different company today than we were in 2016, or even a year ago. We’ve fundamentally altered our DNA to focus more on preventing harm in all our services, and we’ve systematically shifted a large portion of our company to work on preventing harm.’ 

Mark Zuckerberg has been slammed for his 'tone-deaf' end of year message after saying he sees progress for Facebook after a tumultuous year for the social media giant. He posted the above photo with wife  Priscilla on New Year's Day

Mark Zuckerberg has been slammed for his 'tone-deaf' end of year message after saying he sees progress for Facebook after a tumultuous year for the social media giant. He posted the above photo with wife  Priscilla on New Year's Day

Mark Zuckerberg has been slammed for his ‘tone-deaf’ end of year message after saying he sees progress for Facebook after a tumultuous year for the social media giant. He posted the above photo with wife  Priscilla on New Year’s Day

He said Facebook now has more than 30,000 people ‘working on safety’ and invests billions of dollars in security.

Responding to Zuckerberg’s message, tech adviser Paul Armstrong wrote in Forbes that his statement was ‘bizarrely worded and timed’.

‘The biggest issue with the post is the list of work Facebook has done and still that have yet to yield any major impact,’ Armstrong wrote. 

‘When read as a whole, the post simply confirms one thing about Facebook. No change has affected (or is designed to affect) the leading cause of Facebook’s problems – the business model. 

‘Facebook’s issues are no longer just PR issues; these are older, more fundamental issues that are being leaked and brought to life. More will undoubtedly come in 2019 ( Zuckerberg’s post almost promises it).’

TechCrunch slammed Zuckerberg’s post as ‘tone-deaf’ and said it read ‘like 1,000 words of patting himself on the back’.

‘He conveniently ignored some of the most damaging, ongoing problems that the company has shown little desire to solve, opting instead for quick fixes or simply pretending they don’t exist,’ security writer Zack Whittacker said. 

Zuckerberg’s comments came at the close of a year when Facebook was roiled by revelations about the misuse of personal data by the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 US election and on data sharing with business partners.

But he said the questions around Facebook are ‘more than a one-year challenge’ and that the California giant was in the process of ‘multi-year plans to overhaul our systems.’

‘In the past we didn’t focus as much on these issues as we needed to, but we’re now much more proactive,’ he said.

The comments follow a message from Zuckerberg in January, before many of Facebook’s troubles emerged, when he outlined his goals of stemming abuse and hate and foreign interference, among other things, on the network used by more than two billion people.

Capping a tumultuous year marked by data protection scandals and government probes, Zuckerberg said in his year-end message that he was 'proud of the progress we've made' in addressing Facebook's problems

Capping a tumultuous year marked by data protection scandals and government probes, Zuckerberg said in his year-end message that he was 'proud of the progress we've made' in addressing Facebook's problems

Capping a tumultuous year marked by data protection scandals and government probes, Zuckerberg said in his year-end message that he was ‘proud of the progress we’ve made’ in addressing Facebook’s problems

‘My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues,’ Zuckerberg said in January.

In his end of year message, Zuckerberg enumerated a series of steps taken over the past year, including fact-checking partnerships, advertising transparency and artificial intelligence to remove harmful content.

He added that Facebook’s systems were also being retooled with the aim of helping ‘improve people’s well-being,’ based on research it conducted.

He said the research ‘found that when people use the internet to interact with others, that’s associated with all the positive aspects of well-being… But when you just use the internet to consume content passively, that’s not associated with those same positive effects.’

One of the changes aims to reduce ‘viral videos’ that are shared across the Facebook platform.

‘These changes intentionally reduced engagement and revenue in the near term, although we believe they’ll help us build a stronger community and business over the long term,’ Zuckerberg said.

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