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Shrink Facebook to Save the World

  • September 21, 2021

The Journal wrote that, as in Myanmar, Facebook’s staff and computerized systems weren’t capable of understanding the dialects of most posts that were encouraging violence against a persecuted ethnic group, which the U.S. government said was the target of ethnic cleansing. Ethiopians and Facebook employees had been warning the company of this risk.

How many times do we need to read similar tales from Sri Lanka, Honduras or the Philippines before concluding that perhaps Facebook cannot capably operate in places where people are most vulnerable to online abuses?

Facebook tends to say that it devotes considerable resources outside its home country to identify and delete accounts that spread dangerous propaganda or are otherwise used to mislead or hurt people.

It’s hard to imagine Facebook retreating from the world by choice, but doing so wouldn’t be a catastrophic financial hit for the company. While it’s true that a vast majority of Facebook users are based outside the U.S., Canada and Europe, two-thirds of Facebook’s revenue comes from those regions.

Similarly, Amazon generates about 90 percent of its revenue from just four countries — the U.S., Germany, Britain and Japan — and few people believe that the company’s global concentration is holding it back.

Running a global internet company is not easy. But it’s also hard to watch Facebook be used as a tool for ethnic violence and authoritarian abuse and accept that this is a defensible downside to connecting the world.

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