Michael Seibel+ Your Authors @mwseibel CEO, Partner at Y Combinator #ycombinator [email protected] Feb. 16, 2020 2 min read + Your Authors

What if Facebook/Twitter/Google saw it as their responsibility to keep the public informed or at least to limit the reach of lies and conspiracy theories?

Tech folks love to blame journalists but we don’t spend enough time asking who controls their incentives.

I wonder if the major platforms would consider reducing their revenue/engagement by 25% if it resulted in a more informed and more united country/world.

If your platform is how the public consumes information than you have some responsibility for the information we consume.

Algorithms that optimize for engagement are at the heart of Google, Twitter, Youtube, IG, etc. I think these algorithms will be judged as the cigarettes of the 21st century.

Software engineers inside of these companies have more power than they think. They can be a spark of change from the inside. If you don’t let your kids use the products that your build/maintain - maybe you should reconsider if they should exist in their current forms at all.

Btw - I don’t mean to imply that these algorithms / platforms aren’t giving us what we ask for. But, when your product is addictive and harmful you have to take more responsibility for the outcomes that you help create.

An important improvement to what I’m trying to say that was tweeted by @markstraub:

Being addicted to social media (or TV) is either a small or large problem. It all depends on what content we are consuming on the platform. As a society if we become addicted to propaganda and misinformation the negative effects can be very harmful.

Many have said that we can’t trust these platforms to police the information we see. What a strange point because they clearly do this right now. They decide which of your friends posts you see. It’s not a free flow of information - there is too much information.

So in a world where a small number of large companies are basically controlling a large portion of the information everyone consumes - maybe they have the obligation to ensure society doesn’t descend into chaos.

Interesting Lecture from @alexstamos that I wanted to push higher in the thread:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2150&v=ATmQj787Jcc&feature=emb_logo 

Interesting clip from this lecture:  https://ytcropper.com/cropped/AT5e498d90f3236 

What has become very clear in this thread is that many are very afraid of any entity controlling what information is available to consume. What I don't understand is why they don't believe that social media, the education system, and the government do this every day.


You can follow @mwseibel.



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