Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg to MIT Grads: Use Tech to Do Good in the World

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg tells MIT grads the internet carries 'extraordinary power.'

The vast power of technology and the internet should be used for good, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg told MIT's graduating class Friday. 

The chief operating officer of the world's largest social network knows of what she speaks. Facebook has been hit this year with a series of scandals over everything from how it scours user accounts for data to its it role in the 2016 election.

The internet possesses "tremendous power" for helping humanity, she said. "But it also empowers those who seek to do harm," she warned. "When everyone has a voice, some people raise their voices in hatred. When everyone can share, some share lies."

And yes, she realized her points applied to her own company.

"You might be thinking, give some of the issues Facebook has had, isn't what I'm saying hitting pretty close to home?"  she asked. "Yes. It is."

In March, Facebook was scrutinized for its involvement with Cambridge Analytica, a digital consulting firm with ties to Donald Trump's presidential campaign which improperly accessed information from as many as 87 million Facebook users, authorities said. 

The behemoth company has also been under fire for failing to prevent Russian trolls from posting false information and content designed to sow discord among voters. 

 Sandberg says the industry must change. 

"It's not enough to have a good idea – we have to know when to stop a bad one," she said. "Know that you have an obligation to never shy away from doing the right thing, because the fight to ensure tech is used for good is never over."

She also urged male graduates to speak out against sexism and heralded the #MeToo movement. 

"When you own your mistakes, you can work harder to correct them, and even harder to prevent the next ones. That's my job now."