Facebook Live Controversy Looms Over F8 2017 Conference


F8 Facebook developers conference

As Facebook prepares for its annual F8 developers conference on Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg is facing teh fall-out for the weekend shooting by Steve Stephens in a homicide that was posted on Facebook Live.

The 57-second long video has been seen by thousands of people worldwide raising questions about a streaming platform that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged will reflect basic humanity in all its forms.

At launch almost one year ago, Zuckerberg said of Facebook Live, “we built this big technology platform so we can go and support whatever the most personal and emotional and raw and visceral ways people want to communicate are as time goes on.”

Ever since, the world has witnessed on Facebook Live unedited police shootings, rape, torture, and so many suicides the company will institute real-time suicide prevention.

Facebook pulled Stephens’ video shortly after it was posted and released this statement: “This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook. We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook, and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety.”

That said, Facebook continues to resist using algorithms to censor videos and relies on scores of human employees to peruse all videos uploaded, while asking Facebook users to flag videos they think need to be removed. That time may be over.

The incident and debate takes place on the eve of F8, a platform for Zuckerberg and a lure for developers. This year’s conference has been relocated from Facebook HQ to the convention center in San Jose, accommodating 4,000 attendees, twice as many people as last year.

“They’re at the point where they’re such a big deal—in the universe and to us—that we notice when they screw up,” said Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities, to CNET. “Their ambition has highlighted their shortcomings.”

Facebook made $26.8 billion in ad sales in 2016 from the service and Facebook Messenger—the two most popular smartphone apps in the US in February reports ComScore.

Zuckerberg published a manifesto in February outlining Facebook’s evolving role, setting a backdrop and tone for tomorrow’s conference where he’s expected to discuss chatbots (Messenger currently counts over 30,000 bots), camera filters, VR as well as FB’s M AI assistant, soon to be integrated in its messaging app.

This first iteration of M analyzes messages and gives suggestions for polls, stickers, and ride-sharing apps mentioned in posts.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see AI used in other Facebook tech,” said Gartner analyst Brian Blau. “I know that AI is a theme for Facebook. They say that it’s one of their long-term objectives, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come forward this year through different missions they have.”

Facebook Messenger, at five years old, claims 1 billion monthly active users. Stan Chudnovsky, Head of Product, commented, “The history of the internet is all about removing friction. In this case, instead of you having to think about doing something, like sending a sticker, paying a friend for something or sharing your location, and having to press three taps, M does it for you.”

Another focus for Facebook is perfecting the smartphone camera and copying Snapchat’s Stories format, while creating filters, lenses and ‘proto-augmented’ reality tools.

“The more outside developers work with Facebook, the more powerful the company becomes without having to employ more engineers or buy more companies,” Steven Levy, editor of Backchannel, told USA Today.

On Day Two of F8, the focus will be on futuristic gadgets being created undercover in the Building 8 lab such as Zuckerberg’s goal to create portable lenses, glasses and contact lenses that stay charged throughout the day. Also percolating in Building 8, brain-scanning technology, a personal favorite of Zuckerberg’s.

Regina Dugan, former DARPA executive poached from Google last April, oversees Building 8 where multiple jobs opportunities are listed such as a retail manager position who will “have the responsibility of creating disruptive ground up shopping experiences of Facebook consumer hardware,” and another open partnerships lead position that says the person will “build an engaging and successful 3 year partnership strategy for Building 8 retail.”

CNET sums up the anticipation of this year’s F8 as being the man behind the brand: “Zuckerberg has become a main attraction: a billionaire philanthropist who hobnobs with world leaders and has even drawn speculation as a presidential candidate.”