Facebook says it may not be good for democracy

Facebook, Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) is making efforts this year prevent manipulation of its platform by nation states, but the company says that it can't guarantee that social media is not harmful to democracy.

In a new blog post entitled "Hard Questions: Social Media and Democracy," Facebook product manager Samidh Chakrabarti says Facebook is aware of the type of damage the internet can do to a healthy democracy.

Salaries of employees at 25 top tech companies:

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Salaries of employees at 25 top tech companies
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Salaries of employees at 25 top tech companies

Google

Average annual bonus: $32,478

Average sign-on bonus: $27,547

Average annual base salary: $136,000

Netflix

Average annual bonus: $0

Average sign-on bonus: $3,520

Average annual base salary: $206,000

Twitter

Average annual bonus: $120

Average sign-on bonus: $26,144

Average annual base salary: $149,000

Apple

Average annual bonus: $20,298

Average sign-on bonus: $27,201

Average annual base salary: $102,000

Facebook

Average annual bonus: $33,225

Average sign-on bonus: $45,708

Average annual base salary: $145,000

Oculus VR

Average annual bonus: $395

Average sign-on bonus: $6,926

Average annual base salary: $119,000

Amazon

Average annual bonus: $24,732

Average sign-on bonus: $41,340

Average annual base salary: $118,000

Square

Average annual bonus: $988

Average sign-on bonus: $17,996

Average annual base salary: $134,000

Uber

Average annual bonus: $31,633

Average sign-on bonus: $1,807

Average annual base salary: $117,000

Pinterest 

Average annual bonus: $4,374

Average sign-on bonus: $33,376

Average annual base salary: $151,000

Tesla

Average annual bonus: $4,779

Average sign-on bonus: $19,447

Average annual base salary: $105,000

UnitedHealth Group

Average annual bonus: $7,280

Average sign-on bonus: $118

Average annual base salary: $87,000

Snap Inc.

Average annual bonus: $10,588

Average sign-on bonus: $23,705

Average annual base salary: $127,000

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.

Average annual bonus: $10,756

Average sign-on bonus: $8,265

Average annual base salary: $131,000

CSRA

Average annual bonus: $13,732

Average sign-on bonus: $1,186

Average annual base salary: $100,000

credit: Facebook

Capital One

Average annual bonus: $15,114

Average sign-on bonus: $8,568

Average annual base salary: $107,000

Fitbit

Average annual bonus: $18,069

Average sign-on bonus: $25,459

Average annual base salary: $128,000

Pandora

Average annual bonus: $22,316

Average sign-on bonus: $18,886

Average annual base salary: $109,000

Microsoft 

Average annual bonus: $23,224

Average sign-on bonus: $20,191

Average annual base salary: $179,000

Airbnb

Average annual bonus: $23,250

Average sign-on bonus: $23,250

Average annual base salary: $124,000

Arista Networks

Average annual bonus: $27,497

Average sign-on bonus: $18,652

Average annual base salary: $151,000

credit: Facebook

Linkedin

Average annual bonus: $32,216

Average sign-on bonus: $25,418

Average annual base salary: $149,000

Dropbox

Average annual bonus: $32,707

Average sign-on bonus: $32,833

Average annual base salary: $144,000

VMware

Average annual bonus: $33,145

Average sign-on bonus: $18,851

Average annual base salary: $147,000

Salesforce

Average annual bonus: $39,959

Average sign-on bonus: $28,314

Average annual base salary: $142,000

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"I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can't," Chakrabarti says.

He also says Facebook has a "moral duty" to understand the social impact of its service and make its content as trustworthy as possible.

[See: 7 of the Best Stocks to Buy for 2018.]

Earlier this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to "fix" Facebook in 2018 by reducing abusive, hateful and manipulative content and improving overall user experience.

Facebook and Twitter (TWTR) took a lot of heat following the 2016 election due to allegations that the Russian government and nefarious groups used social media to spread false information in an attempt to influence the outcome of the election. Facebook says Russian agents created roughly 80,000 Facebook posts viewed by 126 million people in the two years leading up to the 2016 election.

Twitter recently said it is notifying nearly 700,000 people who interacted with more than 50,000 fraudulent Twitter accounts found to be linked to the Russian government.

While Facebook has been harshly criticized by the media for its potential role in the election, Facebook investors certainly have no complaints. Facebook stock is up more than 43 percent in the past year, and its revenue, which comes almost entirely from ad sales, was up 47 percent in the most recent quarter.

[See: 7 of the Best Tech Stocks to Buy for 2018.]

Zuckerberg spooked investors this month when he said efforts to fix Facebook would include changes to its News Feed feature that would result in less content from publishers and less overall time spent on Facebook. However, GBH Insights head of technology research Daniel Ives says improving the user experience is the right move in the long-term.

"While the News Feed changes just announced could be worrisome in terms of an ad growth hiccup, we believe this overhaul was the right move for longer-term user engagement and driving 'meaningful content,' which remains the core ingredient in Facebook's recipe for success for the coming years," Ives says.

GBH has a "highly attractive" rating and $225 price target for Facebook stock.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

 

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