By Christopher Carbone
Published January 21, 2019
In a Sunday speech at the Digital, Life, Design conference, the embattled Facebook executive and board member outlined five areas that Facebook is focused on improving for 2019: safety, election interference, fake accounts, data protection and transparency.
According to Sandberg, Facebook now blocks more than 1 million accounts per day (sometimes at the point of creation), employs 30,000 people on its safety and security team — tripling its headcount from 2017 — and has removed thousands of pages and groups for taking part in coordinated inauthentic behavior.
The social network has been slammed by critics for not moving quickly enough to respond to Russia's 2016 election misinformation campaign, for how it polices speech and for the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, among several other crises and problems.
"We need both optimism and courage. Not everyone shares the values we stand for. The very idea of an open, connected world is in some ways under attack — from a minority of people who want to spread hate and misinformation, from hackers who just want personal gain, from countries who want to interfere in elections and who want to quiet voices or control their own people," Sandberg, who worked at Google before joining Facebook in 2008, said.
Sandberg, 49, cited the company's growing use of artificial intelligence to detect terrorist content, hate speech and abuse, although critics have said the systems are not foolproof.
"We know we need to do better at anticipating risks and we need to stop abuse more quickly," she said in her speech. "We need to do more to protect people’s data."
In a nod to the Silicon Valley backlash fomenting among lawmakers and some users against Facebook and other tech platforms like Google and Amazon, Sandberg said that governments "have a right and a duty to set rules and boundaries," but said regulation must be "effective" as well as "pro-innovation."
However, Sandberg did not announce any changes radical enough to alter Facebook's business model, which relies on 2.6 billion users across multiple services to share, upload, like, join, message, post and share some more.
According to Mark Zuckerberg's second-in-command, Facebook is determined to be the solution to the many problems that its platform has created.
"We are more determined than ever to build a better and safer Internet," Sandberg explained. "The tools that are abused by the few are the very same tools that allow so much good for the many. And that good is worth fighting for."