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Illustrations: Erik Carter

Viral hate, election interference, and hacked accounts: inside the tech industry’s decades-long failure to reckon with risk

One spring day in 2014, Susan Benesch arrived at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park and was ushered into a glass-walled conference room. She’d traveled from Washington, D.C., to meet with Facebook’s Compassion Research Team, a group that included employees, academics, and researchers whose job was to build tools to help users resolve conflicts directly, reducing Facebook’s need to intervene.

Benesch, a human rights lawyer, faculty associate at Harvard, and founder of the Dangerous Speech Project, a nonprofit studying the connection between online speech and real-world violence, worked closely with the Compassion Research Team, and used this meeting to raise a serious issue that had come to her attention: The extensive sectarian violence in Myanmar. …

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