How Can Facebook Fix Its PR Problem? Experts Discuss Sex Pictures Survey on CNBC’s Squawk Alley


Ed Lee, Recode managing editor, and Sree Sreenivasan, former NYC chief digital officer, discuss the current issues facing Facebook after a survey on the platform asked if adults can ask children for sexual pictures.

Facebook recently produced an online survey that asked how Facebook users would react if an adult man ask a child for sexual pictures. In a Squawk Alley segment, Recode Managing Editor Edmund Lee said it looked like the survey question was produced by an algorithm.

CNBC’s Jon Fortt asked the panel, “Why are they even asking this question? Sree Sreenivasan, former NYC chief digital officer, seemed to trust Facebook, saying this is the culture of Silicon Valley, where there is no wrong question because data is king.

Facebook previously announced that the sexual survey that asked whether Facebook should permit adults to ask a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures “was a mistake.”

Sree Sreenivasan thinks Facebook is strong for the “long game”. He said younger people are on Snapchat and Instagram, but will come around to Facebook when they get older.

Facebook failed to acquire Snapchat, after trying grab it for $3 billion in 2013. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel turned down the takeover offer from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Since the rebuff, Facebook has worked to try to turn Instagram into a Snapchat killer, including a new face filter of its own, similar to Snapchat’s, that was introduced in July 2017.

Instagram Stories, released in August 2016, works like Snapchat with photos, effects and layers that are added to a story, and expire after 24 hours.

The panel discussed whether Facebook is a safe space for advertisers. Edward Lee said Facebook is less attractive to big brand advertisers, because big advertisers are just advertising to remind people they’re out there, and are not advertising to get an instant purchase. He said Facebook is working on ways to attract big brand advertisers.

The bizarre survey news comes just weeks after Facebook announced it was coming out with a messenger app designed with safety in mind for children.

Flashback to December 2017 …

Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media, and Larry Magid,, discuss whether Facebook’s new Messenger app for kids is really a good idea, and whether it’s a legitimate way for parents to control social media content.

Facebook announced that Messenger Kids was significantly different from the standard Facebook version, with no advertisements, in-app purchases or data collection, and with strict policies in place. Parents must specifically download the Messenger Kids app onto their child’s phone, log in with their account to verify their identity and create a unique Messenger Kids-account for their child. After doing so, parents have control over who their child talks to (with parents needing to approve new contacts).

Additionally, Facebook claims Messenger Kids-accounts are not visible in search on Facebook; safety filters aim to proactively prevent children from sharing nudity, sexual content, or violence; and a dedicated, human support team works to tackle abuse complaints. The app was certified by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

UK’s Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt publicly criticized Facebook, announcing that Facebook had told him they would promote ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children.

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