by Ray Hayes
I honestly have a love, hate relationship with Facebook ads. Although Facebook ads can connect you with thousands of “people” instantly, the majority of those “people” are usually not actually people. From my personal experience, it seems that the traffic generated from advertisement brings with it alot of fake profiles and fake views. This is a huge and well known flaw, and one that gives credence to the whole Russia exploitation saga currently running through out Political news. For those unaware, according to many prolific news outlets, Russian hackers used Facebook to their advantage to promote divisive race ads in an effort to hurt America’s political process.
But why did no one at Facebook realize the extent to which divisive racial ads were being promoted as it happened? Jessica Guynn from USA Today thinks that the lack of notice is a direct result of the lack of African American employees on Facebook’s staff. Guynn believes that if more minority employees, specifically black employees, were on staff at the time, the negative Russian ads would have been caught. Currently, today Facebook ads, “…don’t get reviewed by the teams of reviewers whom Facebook relies on to moderate content.” Instead they are reviewed by individuals, most of which are not minorities. Facebook as already publicly stated that they are working on their lack of diversity within their organization, but when political processes are undermined due to lack of awareness, it may be a necessity for the company to fix its diversity problem immediately.
With Congress and lawmakers pursuing Facebook relentlessly for failing to stop the Russian propaganda, “…Facebook says it’s planning to double the number of employees and contractors who handle safety and security issues to 20,000 by the end of 2018. And, going forward, it’s planning to manually review all campaigns that involve politics, religion, ethnicity and social issues.”
Overall, I believe Guynn has a point that if a more diverse group of people were reviewing Facebook ads, they may have caught on to the Russian propaganda as it happened. But unfortunately, we will never know. In any case, diversity is needed in the company now more than ever, otherwise this problem may persist.