Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Katie Couric Interviews Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit

Claire Landsbaum, Vanity Fair:

“I’m conscious that this clock is beeping at us,” Sheryl Sandberg said to Katie Couric onstage at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit, gesturing toward the lip of the stage. “They’re going to give me a little extra time,” Couric replied, smiling conspiratorially at the audience. Much to the crowd’s delight, Couric’s grilling of the Facebook COO did indeed go over time, backing Sandberg into perhaps the tightest corner in which she’s publicly found herself. As Mark Zuckerberg prepares to testify in Washington about Libra, the new cryptocurrency Facebook is backing, Couric pushed Sandberg to address topics like the measures Facebook has taken to protect elections, the prospect of Facebook being broken up, Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy, and Zuckerberg’s invocation of Martin Luther King Jr. that was rebuffed by his daughter Bernice King.

Matt Donnelly, Variety:

“My real fear is that in 2020, it is going to be the battle of the billionaires, of secret groups working for people aligned on both sides, who are trying to manipulate us at scale, online,” Couric quoted [Alex Stamos]. “What is Facebook doing to defend the platform against this kind of domestic threat?”

Sandberg ceded it was a good question, and responded that on Facebook “the transparency is dramatically different,” noting that content pages will now receive geotags identifying their origin points whether they like it or not.

Couric was not satisfied. “But then why did Facebook announce not to fact check political ads last month? The Rand Corporation actually has a term for this, ‘truth decay.’ Mark [Zuckerberg] himself has defended this decision even as the press have expressed concerns about the erosion of truth online. What is the rationale for that?”

Couric’s interview was incisive but fair for the chief operating officer of a company as manipulative and engrained as Facebook. The Vanity Fair link contains a full video of the forty-odd minute interview.