Were the creators of Facebook and Twitter oblivious to how social networks could be abused? "I struggle to believe that these brilliant product CEOs, who have created Social Media services used by millions of people worldwide, are actually naive," writes the former CEO of Reddit. "It's a lot more likely that they simply don't care." [S]ocial media companies and the leaders who run them are rewarded for focusing on reach and engagement, not for positive impact or for protecting subsets of users from harm. They're rewarded for keeping costs down, which encourages the free-for-all, anything-goes approach misnomered "free speech." If they don't need to monitor their platforms, they don't need to come up with real policies -- and avoid paying for all the people and tools required to implement them.... In the earliest days, it wasn't always obvious what these platforms were doing and what they would become -- even to insiders. But at a certain point, it became clear that money was the driving factor, and dopamine- or rage-induced interactions meant more money.... CEOs should just forget about hiding behind "naivete" and "free speech," and instead remind themselves they can take actions that will meaningfully change the direction of the future. The first step is acknowledging the problem... You've solved for increasing engagement; now it's time to make real, positive interactions a priority. The next time a CEO claims ignorance, "we must hold them accountable," the essay argues, complaining that right now there's a vacuum of leadership. So instead, "Everyone's holding hands on the road to hell."
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