Program Manager Dia Kayyali’s advice for Mark Zuckerberg featured in The Guardian

Every January since 2009, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, publicly shares his goals for the year. Over the past decade, as Facebook has grown in influence and notoriety, his “personal challenges” have mirrored the weight and responsibility of the tech giant. A far cry from earlier declarations like promising to dress more adult-like, Zuckerberg’s resolutions have become far more consequential–not just for himself and his company, but all of us. In 2018, in the wake of security issues, misinformation, election scandals, and more, Zuckerberg pledged “to focus on fixing these important issues.” Many believe 2018 to be the first year he failed to accomplish his personal challenge.

However, ahead of this year’s formal declaration of his commitments, The Guardian asked technology experts, policymakers, and activists two questions:

  • What do you predict Mark Zuckerberg’s 2019 personal challenge will be?
  • What do you think Mark Zuckerberg’s 2019 personal challenge should be?

WITNESS’ Tech Advocacy Program Manager, Dia Kayyali, was one of the experts asked to predict and advise. Here’s what they had to say:

Will be: Some other, similarly broad, challenge that relates to making Facebook a force for good in the world.

Should be: Take personal responsibility for turning Facebook around as a company. That means publicly committing to creating an ethical and principled company that respects civil society, and ensuring that at every level Facebook makes decisions based on human rights instead of market forces. It means personally committing to a Facebook that doesn’t accidentally make decisions that aid violent regimes, white supremacists and other bad actors. Above all, it means simply being honest about Facebook’s largely detrimental role in global society. That would be the biggest challenge of all.

Shortly after The Guardian ran this piece, Zuckerberg shared his 2019 personal challenge. Following another terrible year for Facebook, Zuckerberg pledged “….to host a series of public discussions about the future of technology in society — the opportunities, the challenges, the hopes, and the anxieties.”

Unfortunately, Dia’s prediction was pretty spot on.

Dia leads WITNESS’ Tech Advocacy program which engages technology companies and supports digital policies that help human rights advocates safely, effectively, and ethically use technology for good. The program includes direct, sustained advocacy to those in leadership positions at companies to ensure that anyone, anywhere can use the power of technology to protect and defend human rights.


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