Tech employees can make up for executives

Jared Moore
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Jared Moore is a research fellow at the Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Mumbai and was recently an instructor of computer ethics at the University of Washington.

Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey — representing Facebook and Twitter, respectively — recently testified before Congress, this time evading questions about bias on their platforms. We frequently turn to tech executives to answer for such issues because they have the agency to make changes. But they are not alone.

Overlooked are the tech employees — the 10,000 or so at Facebook — that build the platforms executives defend. Tech’s reach makes employees’ agency clear. Consider the two billion active Facebook users — 200,000 per employee. The average U.S. Congressperson serves only three times as many people.

Not only does the reach of employees suggest influence, so do their actions. In the fall of 2017, Mark Zuckerberg said it was “a pretty crazy idea” that fake news on Facebook had an effect on the 2016 general election. Despite widespread public condemnation, Zuckerberg held firm to his position.

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