Microsoft built its fortune making the tools of technology that billions use every day. But the company’s president, Brad Smith, has increasing misgivings about how thieves, terrorists and scoundrels have weaponised those tools, and how the industry has failed too often to thwart them.
He chides Facebook for allowing influence campaigns to flourish on the network that helped elect Donald Trump president in 2016. And he argues that social media companies can’t profit from hatemongers posting vile content while brushing off responsibility.
“Digital technology has become both a tool and a weapon, and we need to address that head on,” Smith said in an interview at Microsoft headquarters here. “And part of addressing it head on starts with really understanding the different ways in which it’s either serving humanity or being weaponised.”