Friday morning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to traditional media to make the case why we should all rally around his social media giant.
The carefully written article leaves aside the reasons Zuckerberg had to write a defense of his company in a well regarded-news outlet, The Wall Street Journal. In fact, it can be hard to read the piece without cutting through the PR-speak. This might help.
"Recently I've heard many questions about our business model, so I want to explain the principles of how we operate."
Translation: Recently, dozens and dozens of stories have poured out about the ways Facebook has manipulated and sold our users' personal data and information in ways they never would have permitted if they understood what we were doing.
"If we're committed to serving everyone, then we need a service that is affordable to everyone. The best way to do that is to offer services for free, which ads enable us to do."
Translation: Facebook's entire business model is based on taking information about you and using it to sell advertising space or other products to the highest bidder.
"People consistently tell us that if they're going to see ads, they want them to be relevant. That means we need to understand their interests."
In English: We need your personal information like a fish needs water!
"The internet also allows far greater transparency and control over what ads you see than TV, radio or print."
Which means: To better understand what I mean by transparency, I direct you to our legal terms of service and privacy policies that you did not read because they are, in fact, incredibly complex and set by default to benefit us.
"Another question is whether we leave harmful or divisive content up because it drives engagement. We don't."
Translation: The fact that our platform has been used to interrupt American democracy, enable autocrats in developing countries and drive ethnic hatred around the world is not something we actually want to happen. But, you know.
"The only reason bad content remains is because the people and artificial-intelligence systems we use to review it are not perfect — not because we have an incentive to ignore it. Our systems are still evolving and improving."
Translation: The main reason bad content remains is that we really have zero legal liability for supporting its presence on our platform. Trust us, though, we will get this fixed as soon as possible.
"Finally, there's the important question of whether the advertising model encourages companies like ours to use and store more information than we otherwise would."
Bottom Line: I'm going to say a bunch of stuff after this about security and operating systems, but the answer is, yes it does.
"For us, technology has always been about putting power in the hands of as many people as possible. If you believe in a world where everyone gets an opportunity to use their voice and an equal chance to be heard, where anyone can start a business from scratch, then it's important to build technology that serves everyone. That's the world we're building for every day, and our business model makes it possible."
Translation: Don't ask exactly what we mean by "everyone" here. Even if it creates a system that has divided communities, fomented civil unrest, undermined democracy and diminished discourse, isn't free good?
— Reprinted with permission from the Dallas Morning News