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The crisis facing Facebook is a simple one: the social network that was designed to build and connect communities has become a powerful tool to split societies. A recent British parliamentary report was damning about the risks posed by disinformation and fake news. “Our democracy is at risk, and now is the time to act, to protect our shared values and the integrity of our democratic institutions,” it said.
John Thornhill asks how Facebook, and other large social media companies, should respond to this existential threat. While the company has accepted more responsibility for user content, and is stepping up scrutiny of its advertisers, the challenge of policing the internet is a nightmarish one, says John. One place to start would be for Facebook to be more open, and co-operate more fully with governments and academic researchers, who are trying to address online abuse.
Constanze Stelzenmüller writes that Germany is facing its worst security dilemma since the 1950s. The debate over the future of nuclear deterrence in Europe is simmering in Berlin, as an essay in a weekly newspaper posed the question: do we need the bomb?
Dani Rodrik argues that the World Trade Organization has become dysfunctional. Its refusal to acknowledge the benefits of divergent economic models, such as China’s, is restrictive and unfair, says the professor of international political economy at Harvard.
Natasha Landell-Mills warns that, given uncertainty over oil prices, and a global push towards decarbonisation, oil and gas companies must identify a long-term price to use in their accounts. Investors and shareholders need to know how vulnerable they might be.
What you’ve been saying
French can surely make their own sandwiches— letter by David Cole, Dunmow, Essex
While a little light-hearted, your report of the threat to daily export of Marks and Spencer sandwiches from its Northampton factory to Paris via the Channel tunnel highlights some absurdities of frictionless cross-border trading. The French are perfectly capable of preparing their own fresh food, as are we, without the environmental damage and congestion contingent on 200 miles of road haulage.
Comment by LastTimeCommenting in response to Working parents need AI to lighten the load
It’s possible to imagine a future in which many professionals work a six-hour day and pay less for nursery and day care than they do now. They’ll arrive home, having collected the kids, at the same time as their service companies deliver their freshly cooked meal and their weeks’ ironing. Of course, none of this is a substitute for reliable transport and affordable homes close to where people work. And sadly, if past experience is anything to go by, what we’ll actually end up with is fewer people with jobs working longer hours.
MoJ has wasted millions, causing misery and chaos— letter by Greg Stewart, London
The ministry of justice has wasted millions at a time when the budget for prisons, courts and lawyers has been slashed, causing misery and chaos to our criminal justice system. Addicted offenders and non-offenders need patience and high quality intervention: it is expensive but cheaper than a revolving door of incarceration.
We need to know about oil companies’ price assumptions Transparency on long-term pricing matters for market stability and climate change
Germany faces its worst security dilemma since the 1950s
The debate over the future of nuclear deterrence in Europe is simmering in Berlin
How to fix Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg can do more to improve a social network that was meant to build communities but has helped to split societies
Working parents need AI to lighten the load
Robots have the potential to revolutionise family life — if we want them to
The WTO has become dysfunctional
Trade rules must acknowledge the benefits of divergent economic models such as China’s
The FT View: Wresting back control of data would benefit us all State surveillance is as menacing as corporate information gathering
The FT View: China should not reopen the spigot of easy money The real weakness lies not in the ratio of debt but how it is distributed
The Big Read
The Big Read: Crackdown in Xinjiang: Where have all the people gone?
US officials fear a mass incarceration is under way in north-west China but Beijing insists nothing is wrong in a region rich in resources but short on freedoms