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Parmy Olson

Facebook Does Something Right for a Change

The company risked its already-bruised reputation by being transparent about its AI work. That’s a refreshing approach.

BlenderBot And Meta Company Photo Illustrations
Photographer: NurPhoto/NurPhoto

As one of the 21st Century’s most powerful data brokers, Facebook is best known for its role in sucking up the personal information of billions of users for its advertising clients. That lucrative model has led to ever-heightening risks — Facebook recently shared private messages between a Nebraska mother and her teenage daughter with police investigating the girl’s at-home abortion.

But in a completely different part of the approximately 80,000-employee business, Facebook’s exchange of information was going the other way and to good effect. The company known as Meta Platforms Inc. this month published a webpage demonstrating its chatbot, with which anyone in the US could chat about anything. While the public response was one of derision, the company had been admirably transparent about how it built the technology, publishing details about its mechanics, for instance. That’s an approach that other Big Tech firms could utilize more.