Between clashing with governments, and threatening fellow social media owners, Meta also has a broader mission in focus, which sees the company seeking to be a greater force for good, on various fronts.
Which, given its track record, may be laughable to some, but it’s coming with at least some good intent.
Today, Meta has published a new report which looks at its efforts to have a more positive impact on society, in a range of ways.
The 132-page report, created in consultation with a range of external experts, looks at Meta’s various projects, and how each of these initiatives contributes to its broader push to improve society.
Even if it hasn’t been a net positive on such in its existence thus far.
As explained by Meta:
“There are no easy answers or solutions to the challenges the world faces today. From war and disease to economic instability and climate change, global problems can only be met with cooperation that extends beyond the borders of any one country or industry. To make progress, we need to bring people together around common goals and values, share tools and expertise, and collaborate in ways that take advantage of a great breadth of diverse ideas and experiences. As a company that connects billions of people around the world, we know that we and the wider tech industry have a significant role to play.”
This is a very optimistic sentiment, especially from a platform that’s facilitated connection among as many negative elements as it has positive.
But even so, the report maps out Meta’s key focus areas in improving its systems, and ensuring that it aligns with these broader goals as best it can.
Based on its various consultations, Meta has established a four-pillar framework for its efforts:
As you can see, Meta’s key focus elements are:
- Operate transparently and sustainably – Conduct business responsibly, ethically and transparently in order to maintain the trust of stakeholders and earn our license to operate around the world.
- Empower our people and partners – Treat employees, suppliers, and other partners with respect and dignity by implementing high standards of safety and care, and ensuring our supply chain partners do the same.
- Build responsibly – Design, develop, and continuously improve our products and platforms to enable safe and inclusive experiences that improve people’s lives.
- Unlock potential for good – Empower people around the world to share ideas, offer support, and make a difference through the use of our products.
The last point here is really where Meta best fits, at least from a public standpoint, with the company also highlighting its key principles, which are more aligned with its platforms.
Based on this, Meta highlights some of its key achievements on each front, which mostly relate to broader corporate initiatives.
Though there are some notes on how its information detection and alert processes are addressing things like mis- and disinformation – but really, the broader focus of the report is on how Meta, as an organization, is seeking to have a more positive impact on the world, through broader scale initiatives, which are less about the content that your or I see on Facebook or Instagram.
But it is in there, including notes on advertising transparency:
As well as an overview of Meta’s approach to free speech in its apps:
“Meta wants users to be able to talk openly about the issues that matter to them, whether through written comments, photos, music or other artistic mediums, even if some may disagree or find them objectionable. Our commitment to expression is paramount, but we recognize the internet creates new and increased opportunities for abuse. For these reasons, when we limit expression, we do it in service of safety, privacy, authenticity and dignity.”
Meta says that it’s working to align with the Global Network Initiative’s Principles on Freedom of Expression, which are based on internationally recognized laws and standards for human rights, while it also aims to protect user privacy, through various means.
Which, as a statement, is interesting - though not everyone would agree that Meta’s approach on either front has been up to standard thus far.
But then again, that’s kind of the point – the report aims to provide both an overview and a roadmap for improvement, so even if Meta hasn’t upheld all of these principles as yet, this is what it’s aiming to achieve, which provides some interesting perspective on its vision, development, and approach on each front, and will ideally see it improve – or at least, give users more understanding of its actions.
The report also looks at the company’s environmental record, diversity and representation, AR/VR development, and its responsible AI principles.
There’s also this overview of its broader internal approach:
It’s come a long way from the ‘Move Fast and Break Things’ era, with Meta now taking a more calculated and deliberate development approach, on all fronts, in alignment with more nuanced principles.
The report provides some interesting perspective on exactly how Meta is looking to evolve, and it’s worth keeping these driving principles in mind when assessing the company’s various decisions. If you wanted to know, for example, why Meta has decided to act on a certain type of content, this report provides the broader framework for such decisions, which could help you better understand how Zuck and his team operate.
As such, it’s worth a look – maybe you don’t need to read all 132 pages, but there’s a lot of insight in each area, which could improve your understanding.
You can download Meta’s ‘2023 Responsible Business Practices’ report here