- Facebook’s VP of worldwide affairs slammed a series of WSJ reports alleging that Facebook is aware of various problems on its platforms but does nothing to address them.
- Based on a study of internal records, the Journal released a broad series of carefully documented pieces on Facebook this week.
- The stories included information about the XCheck program, which the Journal discovered exempts celebrities from Facebook’s standard moderation rules.
- On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal did not immediately respond to emails requesting comments.
Facebook’s vice president of worldwide affairs slammed a series of Wall Street Journal reports alleging that the social network is aware of various problems on its platforms that cause harm to users but does nothing to address them.
Preferential treatment by Facebook
According to the Journal, which cited internal papers such as research reports, online employee chats, and drafts of presentations to top management, Facebook’s researchers repeatedly raised concerns about “the platform’s negative consequences,” but they were disregarded by higher-ups.
The documents revealed company research demonstrating how harmful Instagram can be to teen mental health, that Facebook executives failed to address employee concerns about reports of the platform being co-opted by human traffickers in developing countries, and that Facebook gives preferential treatment to certain high-profile users who violate its rules.
While it was “absolutely legitimate for us to be held to account for how we deal with” some of the challenges mentioned in the Journal reporting, Nick Clegg wrote on Facebook’s blog that the stories “contained deliberate misrepresentations of what we are trying to do, and conferred egregiously false motives to Facebook’s leadership and employees.”
Based on a study of internal records, the Journal released a broad series of carefully documented pieces on Facebook this week, finding that the firm’s platforms “are plagued with faults that inflict harm, sometimes in ways, only the corporation fully knows.”
Facebook’s standard moderation rules
The stories included information about the XCheck program, which the Journal discovered exempts celebrities from Facebook’s standard moderation rules; a look at internal research that shows its photo platform Instagram is problematic for younger users’ mental health; how changes to Facebook’s algorithm increased engagement but actually made users angrier; and a look at employees’ concerns about how Facebook’s algorithm works, and how CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccines drew anti-vax activists to flood Facebook with “barrier to vaccination” content.
Following the Journal’s story that Facebook was aware that Instagram may be damaging to young females, two Senators on the Commerce Committee subcommittee that handles consumer protection announced they were initiating an investigation.
According to Clegg’s blog post, the claim that “Facebook undertakes research and then routinely and intentionally ignores it if the conclusions are uncomfortable for the corporation” is false. “[W]e categorically reject this mischaracterization of our work and questioning of the company’s motives.” On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal did not immediately respond to emails requesting comments.
According to a Friday story, Facebook experts alerted the business that anti-vaxxers were collaborating to flood the comment area of vaccine-related material with misinformation and other misleading claims. In early 2021, an internal analysis projected that more than 40% of comments on vaccine-related information appeared to dissuade individuals from obtaining the coronavirus vaccination.
Global health organizations such as the World Health Organization and Unicef, whose postings were among those being besieged, have also raised concerns about the situation on Facebook.
These focused anti-vax disinformation operations increased in the months following Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that the site will not take significant action against anti-vaccination misinformation in the same manner that it did against the coronavirus epidemic.
“If someone is bringing out an instance where a vaccination did the injury or that they are concerned about it — that’s a tough thing to say from my perspective that you shouldn’t be allowed to express at all,” he told Axios in September 2020.