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News & Press: In the Media

Facebook seeks Feedback in Vt. as it Revamps News Feed

Thursday, November 15, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeff Couture

People in Burlington voiced their questions and concerns about Facebook at an event Nov. 12.

Two company managers are touring the country, stopping in Vermont to get feedback on its news feed. Some of the Vermonters who came had other concerns like fake news and personal privacy.

Facebook manager Minjae Lee said the company has learned its lesson after the foreign meddling into the 2016 presidential election.

"We should have been better prepared, and we should have been more ready to solve, see some of the problems that were coming," Lee said.

Over the last two years, Facebook invested in new technology.

"Machine learning is an example. Just trying to figure out what are potential patterns in the content and data. And that really helps us narrow down to make sure our human reviewers are focused on the right things," Lee said.

For last week's midterm elections, Facebook said it had a team ready to respond in case anything went wrong.

Champlain College student Christopher Vernali said he's not impressed, especially when he saw how this event was set up.

"It just didn't really seem like enough," Vernali said.

At one point, the presenters stumbled through the presentation technology. Facebook booked a small Hotel Vermont conference room but made the event an open invitation to all the people in the greater Burlington area. People packed the room, even spilling out the door at times.

"I mean, this is basically a PR tour. And if you are going to do a PR tour, you know, with a multibillion-dollar company. I think you could do a little better," Vernali said.

Lee said they're trying their best to re-establish trust, but there is only so much Facebook can do.

"These bad actors will find new ways to try to attack the platform, but it's something that we are really taking seriously," Lee said.

Vernali said he is glad managers addressed transparency in the way ads are set up on your news feed.

"I was really curious about big data and how they're going to be using the information that they are gaining on us," Vernali said.

Facebook managers said you can adjust what type of ads you see based on your preferences, but you can't get rid of them. That's how Facebook makes a profit.

Lee said Facebook is trying to move forward.

"We have made mistakes and we want to own up to those mistakes," Lee said.

Facebook does not have a next stop planned for the tour. They tell WCAX News they're hoping to bring the event to other cities in the United States and abroad.

Source: WCAX News

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