It's been a tough year for Facebook, and the road ahead doesn't look as if it's going to get better. The largest social network in the world was embroiled in quite a lot of scandals in 2017, and each of those made people question Facebook's role in sculpting social consciousness.
There's been a lot of drama: fake news, online harassment, Russians exploiting Facebook as a way to cause political rifts during the 2016 president election, and so forth. There's also been lots of speculation about Facebook's identity as well. Is it just a social networking site or is it also a media company? Most people get their news primarily from Facebook, so does that make it a news source?
Those are questions CEO Mark Zuckerberg needs to answer this year, and for his part, he admits that there's a lot of work to do to make Facebook a better place. In fact, he's making it his "personal challenge" for 2018. It's another one of those self-imposed goals he has given himself in 2009, but those were usually along the lines of "meet new people" or "read a lot more books." This year, his challenge comes from a place of sincere desire to change the way Facebook works.
Facebook As A Media Company
Facebook has become increasingly willing to admit that it plays a key role in distributing information, and Zuckerberg's latest announcement implies the company is prepared to address its shortcomings in that role.
"We won't prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools," admits Zuckerberg, who hopes that the site finds itself in a much better trajectory by the end of 2018.
Admitting its errors in that department is important. In spite of Facebook's good intentions in filtering out abuse and harassment, the system often goes haywire when guidelines are misapplied. Most of the time, this results in users getting banned all of a sudden or some being allowed to stay despite their inappropriate behavior. It's a recurring hiccup Facebook hasn't cured quite yet.
Zuckerberg isn't promising any immediate changes, but he does admit the site's problems more candidly than before. He also makes note of the diminishing level of trust for big companies such as Facebook.
"With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it."
Facebook Isn't Just A Fad
It's easy to dismiss Facebook as some sort of fad that's going to deflate at some point in the future, but right now, it's probably the most used tool on the internet. People use it to send and receive messages, browse photos, interact with one another, consume entertainment, and more importantly, get news. It's clear Zuckerberg didn't anticipate that his site would have to accept such roles in the first place — but with great power comes great responsibility. Zuckerberg knows that now.