Over the past few weeks, the sheer volume of not-a-good-look developments involving Facebook has reached overwhelming heights. Not only has the social media platform admitted to selling thousands of ads to Russia-linked entities that hoped to influence the U.S. election, but a lot of the associated propaganda landed in the form of anti-immigration group pages and the like. On a related note, Facebook’s ad-selling algorithm was also found to allow anyone to target racists and anti-Semites with only a few keystrokes.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook will provide plenty of data on the Russia business to Congress and the DOJ. These probes shall take time to conclude, but in the meantime, he has apologized (after plenty of denials on whether Facebook could sway people’s political opinions) and asked for forgiveness in Facebook post that arrived at the end of Yom Kippur:
“Tonight concludes Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews when we reflect on the past year and ask forgiveness for our mistakes. For those I hurt this year, I ask forgiveness and I will try to be better. For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do better. May we all be better in the year ahead, and may you all be inscribed in the book of life.”
It’s understandable that Zuckerberg would seek to make public amends, for those Russia-linked ads reportedly reached up to 70 million Americans. Whether or not they actually affected the outcome of the election, one will never know, and maybe Zuckerberg’s feeling “mildly nauseous” in manner of James Comey.
In all likelihood, however, Zuckerberg probably feels the worst about his once dismissive attitude, which led to him calling out the “crazy” idea that people could vote based upon what they see online. Asking for forgiveness is, however, something that Zuckerberg never had to do, so perhaps all the Russia stuff and the ad-platform controversy will also motivate him to help Facebook become a more positive force in the future.