genius social networking

Mark Zuckerberg — one of the most insightful, adept leaders in the business world — has a problem. It’s a problem he has been slow to acknowledge, even though it’s become more apparent by the day.

Several current and former Facebook employees tell NPR there is a lot of internal turmoil about how the platform does and doesn’t censor content that users find offensive. And outside Facebook, the public is regularly confounded by the company’s decisions — around controversial posts and around fake news.

(Did Pope Francis really endorse Donald Trump? Does Hillary Clinton really have a body double?)

Behind whatever the controversy of the moment happens to be, there’s a deep-seated problem. The problem is this: At age 19, the then-boy genius started a social network that was basically a tech-savvy way to check out classmates in school. Then, over the course of 12 years, he made some very strategic decisions that have morphed Facebook into the most powerful distributor on Earth — the new front page of the news for more than 1 billion people every day. But Zuckerberg didn’t sign up to head a media company — as in, one that has to make editorial judgments.

From Hate Speech To Fake News: The Content Crisis Facing Mark Zuckerberg

Illustration: Chelsea Beck/NPR

Editor’s Note: This story contains images and language that some readers may find disturbing.