After making a name for herself as a “climate activist” with a controversial and divisive speech at the UN last month, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has identified a new goal: to improve Facebook.
Thunberg is adding her voice to Facebook’s critics who accuse the platform of allowing “hate speech”, interference with democracy, and all manner of “fake news.”
Addressing her 2.6 million followers in a post on the social media giant, she said that Facebook could be pressured into removing hate speech, introducing fact-checking, and in general “taking responsibility” if “enough of us demand change.” She also suggests that Facebook is unwilling rather than unable to police content on its platform to satisfactory levels.
Thunberg then revealed that she was mulling leaving Facebook – another popular and often repeated point made by the social media giant’s critics, who nevertheless continue to use it. And she spoke about “lies and conspiracy theories” about herself and others. From there, apparently, the step is brief to “hate, death threats and ultimately violence.”
Her post referenced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony on Friday in the US Congress, where he was confronted by accusations of “refusing to police hate speech.” Another point Zuckerberg was asked to address during his appearance in Washington DC was the issue of advertising – but not the giant’s practice of undermining its users’ privacy by monetizing their personal data for its ads-based business. This has to do with “banning fake advertising statements.”
Thunberg’s frequent comments to the media, and on social media, reveal that she sees herself as something of a celebrity. Speaking for a Swedish newspaper about harassment and threats that she and her family allegedly receive online, she expressed concern for those she was leaving at home and who are more vulnerable than herself, who is “always traveling, inaccessible.”
And she took to Twitter and Facebook to apologize to “other” celebrities – such as political leaders, famous actors, and musicians – whom her impersonators are allegedly attempting to contact using her newly found fame, and advised public figures to try to reach her through “recognized channels.”