YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki said Facebook should drop the idea of covering news altogether and “get back to baby pictures and sharing.” While speaking at Los Angeles-based Code Media conference on Monday, Ms. Wojcicki suggested Facebook’s decision to purge its News Feed of actual news is likely in the company’s best interest given the amount of controversy it has attracted in recent times due to the widespread concerns about the role its social media network played in the dissemination of the so-called “fake news” distributed by foreign agents with the goal of influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in the United States.
While YouTube’s parent Google also faces scrutiny due to similar reasons, Facebook has taken the bulk of public criticism regarding its previously lax approach to content policy that enabled misinformation campaigns on a global level. The Menlo Park, California-based company repeatedly apologized for the ordeal and started experimenting with various fact-checking systems in order to combat the dissemination of misleading, sensationalist, and outright false stories on its platform. While such efforts are still ongoing, Facebook itself admitted they aren’t as effective as it originally hoped, though the company is still pursuing them and claims it’s making progress. In the meantime, its decision to completely revamp the News Feed and minimize the amount of all content people see from publishers should indirectly reduce the overall volume of such problematic stories, though the move itself was described by the company as a return to its roots of sorts, with several key executives including CEO Mark Zuckerberg claiming Facebook has always been about sharing and bringing people together so deprioritizing any content from publishers on its News Feed and placing a larger focus on friends should be in line with such a philosophy.
Ms. Wojcicki appears to agree with that sentiment, if only in a manner that’s highly critical of Facebook. During her recent appearance in Los Angeles, the executive acknowledged Facebook’s attempts to compete with YouTube in the video streaming segment but said no product race can be won “by looking backwards and looking around.” YouTube is presently enduring its own controversy spurred by Internet celebrity Logan Paul whose shock-focused videos attracted criticism to the video platform, prompting it to temporarily prevent him from monetizing his videos without outright banning them, which Ms. Wojcicki previously said he doesn’t deserve.