Call for Facebook regulation as it announces 1,000 new Dublin jobs

Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg was in Dublin to attend a series of events including Facebook’s ‘Gather’ in Croke Park at which she delivered the keynote address and announced investments in Ireland in 2019.

Social media giant Facebook says it will create another 1,000 jobs in Dublin this year, while pledging to crack down on fake news and data manipulation by political agents.

Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who was speaking at the firm's Facebook Gather conference in Croke Park, said the hires would be focused on policy and content moderation, as well as marketing, legal and sales.

The tech giant has come in for sustained criticism by US and EU lawmakers in recent months for perceived inaction against rogue agents said to interfere in elections, as well as fake news trafficking and sharing of user data.

Ms Sandberg said it was up to Facebook to make itself more publicly accountable in relation to "the safety and security of Facebook’s users; the commitment to cracking down on fake accounts and false news; strengthening defences against election interference; and being even more transparent in how it operates and makes decisions".

The new jobs brings the total workforce to around 5,000, having begun with 30 in Ireland in 2009.

Ms Sandberg insisted Facebook was a "very different company to what it was in 2016 or even a year ago".

The announcement in Dublin came as the firm was heavily criticised by a data expert speaking in Cork, who said the Silicon Valley giants had to get better after years of unsatisfactory action when it came to political interference and fake news.

Speaking at the Nimbus Boyond IoT event, Mailstrom founder Dave Troy said: "Overall, I believe there is a lack of ethical leadership in Silicon Valley and each one of these leaders shares different amounts of blame...There is a strong sense in Silicon Valley that if you build these platforms, then somehow magic will occur and everything will just work out in the end. I would assert that this is emphatically not the case and we keep seeing this is true. All of these folks could stand to upgrade their ethical stance."

Mr Troy said Facebook was one of the largest sociological experiments ever conducted, and that "there was so much garbage floating around social media", that serious thought had to be given to regulation.

One of the biggest sources of frustration, Mr Troy said, was the institutional resistance from some of the major social media giants to identifying their failings.

The "monoculture" of young, white, suburban males had largely created the social media phenomenon, he said.

There is a reason why Twitter and Facebook have these failings, because they are all the same type of guys.

Ms Sandberg also announced a €1m donation to the National Anti-Bullying Centre at the Dublin City Universe complex.

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