Social media CEOs can’t defend their business model

Everyone has Paying some attention to the fact that big social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube prioritize user engagement above anything else. So why don’t their CEOs admit it?

On Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai interviewed in front of Congress on “Decision Nation: The Role of Social Media in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation.” For the title hearing. At the moment, it was far from their first rodeo. Three executives Testimony Was in the Senate in late October, and Dorsey and Zuckerberg were Throw back After the election. The sound of both hearings was loud, incoherent glasses so there was plenty of browsing on certain tweets and not too much substance. At Thursday’s hearing, the House made some more promises before the Energy and Commerce Committee.

And it has been delivered. But only in part. If you’ve been searching for dumb questions, annoying biased talk, and “misinformation” under Section 230 of the Code of Conduct for Communications and Scrash Discussion, you won’t be disappointed. Anyway! There was also a glimmer of promise at the five-and-a-half-hour hearing, when members of Congress rarely did anything in this situation: the decision to add business content by digging up business incentives that could have bad consequences instead of just browsing their companies. Representative after delegate describes the relationship between serving such personalized ads on the one hand and attracting the user’s attention by focusing on the spread of extreme and false content on the other. Consider this statement from Illinois Democrat Robin Kelly:

“The business model of your platforms is quite simple: keep users engaged. The more time people spend on social media, the more data will be cut and targeted ads will be sold. To create this engagement, social media platforms increase the content that attracts attention. It may be a cat video or a holiday photo, but it often means that incoming content contains conspiracy theories or violence.Algorithms on platforms can actively equip users from the mainstream to more extreme content, making it an integral part of your business model to keep the user busy. That doesn’t just address alert labels in posts, temporary suspension of some accounts, and even content revisions. And your companies’ unwavering desire to keep users busy will continue to provide a safe haven for such content so improve your bottom line. “

Focusing on the focus-driven business model seems to be an integrated strategy among committee Democrats, but they were not alone. Ohio Republican Bill Johnson compares social platform addiction to cigarettes. “You benefit from hooking up users’ time on your platforms,” ​​he said, addressing Dorsey and Zuckerberg. “So yes or no: do you agree that you made money by creating an addiction to your platforms?”

Not both executives. In addition to Pichai, when they worked repeatedly, the algorithms on their platforms adapted to show users content that kept them busy. Instead of defending the business model of their companies, they denied it.

Zuckerberg, in particular, suggested that the amount of time users spend on the platform is something that is far from the minds of its engineers. “It’s a common misconception that our teams aim to try to maximize the amount of time people spend.” He stressed that the real goal of the organization is “meaningful social interaction.” Misinformation and inflammatory content actually fails that goal. If users spend time on the platform, it just proves that the experience is so meaningful to them. “Busyness is just a sign that if we provide this value, people will be more likely to use our services more,” he said.

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