05 April 2021

My, How Nick Clegg has Fallen

Roll Tape!

In 2010, largely on the basis of being telegenic and glib, Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrats, (Slightly Silly Party) managed to snag enough seats in Parliament, no mean feat in Britains first-past-the-post system, to be the junior member in coalition with David Cameron and the Tories until the next election, where

In the next election, they lost 48 of 57 seats, because the electorate realized that all Clegg cared about was proximity to power.

Speaking of Nick Clegg's pathological need to be close to power, he is now Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, and so, much like his days in UK politics, defending the indefensible.

In this case, the former head of the Lib Dems is defending Facebook’s algorithms and its reckless and insecure handling of user data

Clegg's descent into an irrelevant joke does not surprise me one bit:

Facebook wants to reintroduce users to its algorithms.

On Wednesday, within the span of a few hours, the company took several steps to encourage users to trust its ranking and recommendation systems. In a blog post, Facebook said it would make it easier for users to control what’s in their feeds, pointing to both new and existing tools. In an apparent attempt to buttress that announcement, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg published a 5,000-word Medium post defending the company’s ranking algorithms and repudiating the argument that those algorithms create dangerous echo chambers. Clegg also defended Facebook’s algorithms in a wide-ranging interview with The Verge published on the same day.

Taken together, these moves appear to be a concerted campaign by Facebook to repair the negative reputation of its algorithms, which many say actively encourage and incentivize political polarization, misinformation, and extreme content. The efforts come as the company faces heavy criticism from lawmakers for its platform design, and just a week after CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified to Congress during a hearing on misinformation.

In its latest PR blitz, Facebook is pushing the idea that it’s not particularly responsible for the proliferation of polarization and extreme content on its platforms and is taking appropriate steps to combat both. That defies longtime critics, who have said Facebook’s algorithms are engineered to reward the most odious content, a specific narrative that Facebook and Clegg are actively denying.


“Nick Clegg’s Medium post is a cynical, breathtaking display of gaslighting on a scale hard to fathom even for Facebook,” a spokesperson for the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group of scholars and activists critical of Facebook, told Recode. “Clegg asks, ‘Where does FB’s incentive lie?’ A better question might be: Where does Nick Clegg’s incentive lie? The answer to that is clear.”

“Facebook managed to both insult its users for being too dimwitted to understand how its algorithms work while also blaming them for taking advantage of them too effectively,” said Ashley Boyd, the vice president for advocacy at Mozilla, in a Wednesday statement. “The News Feed controls unveiled today amount to nothing more than an admission that its algorithms are the problem.”

Ashley Boyd's quote is spot on, and I have nothing to add.


Post a Comment