Donna Zuckerberg isn’t sure social media is a force for good

The facebook founder’s sister doesn’t buy that social networks are a unilateral force for good
The facebook founder’s sister doesn’t buy that social networks are a unilateral force for good
Image: Reuters/ Charles Platiau
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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg tends to go on and on about how his company can make the world a more connected place. His sister Donna Zuckerberg, who recently wrote a book on red pill misogynists, doesn’t seem so convinced.

“I hear a great deal about the power of technology to connect the world and build communities,” writes Zuckerberg in her newly published book, Not All Dead White Men. “But when people with similar interests are connected, some of the strengthened communities will inevitably be those bound by shared hatreds and prejudices.”

Not All Dead White Men shows how members of the red pill community, broadly defined as men who believe that society is oppressed by women and encompassing alt right fractions, draws on Classics texts to support their virulently sexist views. It also explores the language and forums of such misogynists in depth. Just as social media can be a force for good, Zuckerberg shows how it also connects misogynists and enables their spread. “Social media has elevated misogyny to entirely new levels of violence and virulence,” she writes.

Zuckerberg—who earned a PhD in classics from Princeton University and is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online classics literary magazine Eidolon—acknowledges that her brother’s company plays a role in the spread of misogyny online. “Facebook obviously is part of it,” she told Quartz. “I think it’s very clear that Facebook is aware of the liberal and conservative bubble issue.” Zuckerberg added that she thought the her brother’s platform was doing more to address the problem than other social media platforms. “For the most part I don’t see Facebook as that crucial to red pill social media use, though obviously there are Facebook groups and communities that are part of the red pill,” she said, before tailing off, adding: “I’m sorry, this is very fraught ground for me.”

The classics writer said that while online anonymity allows people to spread hatred without facing repercussions, all online networks can strengthen misogynistic communities, simply by allowing more red pill members to reach each other. She suggested that misogynist groups could be quarantined, as one of Reddit’s red pill groups recently was.

Overall, Zuckerberg says she expects hateful speech to remain a feature of social networks, even as tech companies claim some responsibility to shape online discourse. “Even if we come up with healthy strategies that do a lot to get rid of hate speech online, determined people will always find a way,” she says. As long as Facebook keeps making the world a more connected place, red pill sexists will keep on connecting to each other.