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How LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman would fix social media

Hoffman, now a general partner at Greylock Partners, talks with Recode’s Kara Swisher on the latest Recode Decode.

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LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman Kelly Sullivan / Getty Images

Humans frequently say insulting things to one another, and technology can’t “solve” that. But tech companies can and should find ways to make their platforms healthier and more positive, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman says.

“These are all private businesses, and you can say, ‘Look, if this is your business, you can take it elsewhere,’” Hoffman said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “That happens in hotels, happens in online stuff. Articulate something around that! ‘This is the way we articulate our opposition to hate speech and hatred: We enable discussion, but we don’t enable oppression or violence.’”

Swisher interviewed Hoffman at “Never Is Now,” an event about anti-Semitism run by the Anti-Defamation League in San Francisco, earlier this month. Hoffman, now a general partner at Greylock Partners, is also the host of his own podcast, Masters of Scale.

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Hoffman explained why he believes tech companies should issue regular report cards about their own values and how they’re working to advance them. Much like the increasingly common reports on how diverse a company’s workforce is, Hoffman says they can make a difference by turning positivity into a metric to optimize for.

“I don’t think the things we’re doing should be, ‘Oh, we blocked x-thousand pieces of bad content,’” he said. “Great! That’s fine. But also, what are you doing proactively? What are you doing to try to create more compassion, more interaction, more mutual understanding? Creating a simple report structure, that could then be part of how companies report, is a really good idea.”

Not every platform would report in exactly the same way — but having a common report would point them in the same direction, at least.

“That would probably be implemented in a different way on Reddit,” Hoffman said. “It could be, for example, the ratio of positive-sentiment conversations to negative-sentiment conversations. They would have to decide themselves, ‘This is who we are, this is what we’re about, these the metrics we’re tracking and we’re being open about those metrics, so that you guys can hold us accountable: Are we having the right impact on society?’”

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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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