Tech Journalist Takes On Facebook & Other Social Media During Milwaukee Visit

Oct 31, 2018

A technology journalist is urging high-tech entrepreneurs, including those in social media, to be more responsible with their creations.

New York Times columnist Kara Swisher was the featured speaker Tuesday at an economic forum in Milwaukee. It was organized by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

Swisher has been a prominent critic of Facebook and its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, for — Swisher claims— not doing enough to block false or hateful messages on the social media site. Swisher, who is also executive editor of Recode, says just in the last few days, Facebook's Instagram was one of several sites allowing too much hate.

"Consider this week's report on 12,000 anti-Semitic messages that were uploaded to Facebook-owned Instagram in the wake of the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue [in Pittsburgh.] This is after the killings. And please do not saunter over to YouTube, or Twitter or Reddit, if you want any relief either, as you will find more of the same — the result of a nearly willful negligence to paying mind of the company they keep," Swisher said, to an audience of about 650 at the Pfister Hotel.

Swisher went on to say that she supports the First Amendment. “But freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence. We have consequences that we are paying for now, because of the way these systems were designed,”

Swisher says "taking responsibility" is one of several principles entrepreneurs should adopt — along with being willing to take risks, accepting diversity of opinion and helping create a local innovation ecosystem.

Joe Kirgues, Kara Swisher, Nick Turkal and Mike Gousha (L to R) speak Tuesday at the Economic Forum 2018
Credit Chuck Quirmbach

Following her speech, Swisher took part in a panel that included the president and CEO of the recently-merged health care company, Advocate Aurora Health. Nick Turkal says his firm already follows much of Swisher's advice.

"I certainly can control the culture inside our company and create a safe place where we value diversity, we value new ideas, we value self-disruption," Turkal said.

Swisher says the workplace and society are likely to face additional high-tech challenges in years to come, as the use of things like robotics and self-driving vehicles spreads.

Support is provided by Dr. Lawrence and Mrs. Hannah Goodman for Innovation reporting.

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