From Facebook – It must be rough when your own platform has so many negative things to embed.
Facebook is no complete stranger to the conflict of public relations issues, whistleblowers, and even the democratic procedure. Facebook has an agenda other than to “provide people the power to develop community and bring the world better together.”
It now seems like together with dumping the “It’s totally free and constantly will be” slogan from its homepage, it has likewise ended up being clear that “Facebook deceived investors and the general public about its role perpetuating misinformation and violent extremism relating to the 2020 election and January 6th insurrection.”– Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen
Dripped documents had begun appearing in the Wall Street Journal and sensational observations began to stand out of lawmakers around the world.
The “Facebook Papers” however, and the lots of stories definitely still to come from their introduction into the public world, touch on much deeper issues about Facebook as a whole. Facebook’s approach to battling hate speech and misinformation, managing worldwide development, securing younger users on its platform, and even its capability to precisely determine the size of its huge audience are all now put on serious blast.
As we enjoy this massive business dodge and weave away such allegations, one thing stays very evident. Facebook has actually ended up being too huge to fail! The question we have to ask is … are they really efficient in handling the “real-world” damages from its terribly large platforms?
Facebook attempts to turn the page
Facebook, for its part, has repeatedly tried to reject Haugen and stated her testimony and reports on the files mischaracterize its actions and efforts.
“At the heart of these stories is a premise which is false,” a Facebook representative said in a declaration to CNN. “Yes, we’re a business and we make a revenue, but the concept that we do so at the cost of people’s security or health and wellbeing misinterprets where our own industrial interests lie.”
In a tweet thread last week, the business’s Vice President of Communications, John Pinette, called the Facebook Documents a “curated selection out of countless files at Facebook” which “can in no chance be used to draw fair conclusions about us.” Even that action is informing—- if Facebook has more documents that would tell a fuller story, why not release them? (Throughout her Senate testimony Facebook’s Davis said Facebook is “looking for ways to release more research.”).
A trove of internal Facebook files leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen has kicked off a wave of protection of the company, starting with the Wall Street Journal’s “Facebook Files” and now as a consortium of other wire service present stories on the very same documents.
A chest of internal Facebook documents dripped by whistleblower Frances Haugen has actually kicked off a wave of coverage of the business, beginning with the Wall Street Journal’s “Facebook Files” and now as a consortium of other wire service present stories on the same documents.
Rather, Facebook is now supposedly planning to rebrand itself under a new name as early as this week, as the wave of critical coverage continues. (Facebook previously decreased to comment on this report.) The relocation seems a clear effort to turn the page, however a fresh coat of paint won’t fix the underlying problems described in the files– just Facebook, or whatever it might soon be called, can do that.
Take the example of a report published by the Journal on September 16 that highlighted internal Facebook research about a violent Mexican drug cartel, referred to as Cartél Jalisco Nueva Generación. The cartel was stated to be using the platform to publish violent content and recruit brand-new members using the acronym “CJNG,” although it had actually been designated internally as one of the “Harmful Individuals and Organizations” whose content need to be eliminated. Facebook informed the Journal at the time that it was purchasing expert system to bolster its enforcement versus such groups.
Despite the Journal’s report last month, CNN last week determined troubling content connected to the group on Instagram, including images of weapons, and photo and video posts in which individuals appear to have actually been shot or beheaded. After CNN asked Facebook about the posts, a spokesperson verified that several videos CNN flagged were gotten rid of for violating the company’s policies, and a minimum of one post had a warning added.
Facebook knew it was being utilized to prompt violence in Ethiopia. It did little to stop the spread, documents show.
Haugen has actually recommended Facebook’s failure to repair such issues remains in part because it focuses on revenue over social good, and, in some cases, since the business lacks the capacity to put out its numerous fires at once.
” Facebook is incredibly very finely staffed … and this is because there are a lot of technologists that look at what Facebook has done and their hesitation to accept responsibility, and individuals simply aren’t happy to work there,” Haugen said in an instruction with the “Facebook Documents” consortium last week. “So they have to make extremely, very, extremely intentional options on what does or doesn’t get achieved.”.
Facebook has actually invested an overall of $13 billion considering that 2016 to enhance the safety of its platforms, according to the business representative. (By comparison, the business’s yearly earnings topped $85 billion last year and its earnings hit $29 billion.) The representative likewise stated Facebook has “40,000 people working on the safety and security on our platform, including 15,000 people who review material in more than 70 languages operating in more than 20 areas all throughout the world to support our neighborhood.”.
” We have likewise removed over 150 networks seeking to manipulate public dispute considering that 2017, and they have actually come from over 50 countries, with the bulk coming from or focused outside of the US,” the spokesperson said. “Our performance history shows that we crackdown on abuse outside the US with the exact same strength that we apply in the United States.”.
Still, the documents suggest that the business has much more work to do to eliminate all of the numerous damages detailed in the files and to deal with the unintentional effects of Facebook’s unprecedented reach and integration into our every day lives.
How Facebook Is Trying To Keep Users.
Facebook executives just recently confessed that younger teenagers are abandoning the site for newer mobile messaging and social sharing apps, while a study from earlier this year discovered that the social media network lost 11 million active users overall in the U.S. and Britain. Here are some options Facebook is thinking about to keep its existing users and recover those who have actually defected:.
Zuckerberg’s public claims typically contrast with internal research.
Haugen referrals Zuckerberg’s public declarations a minimum of 20 times in her SEC problems, asserting that the CEO’s unique degree of control over Facebook forces him to bear supreme duty for a litany of social harms triggered by the business’s relentless pursuit of development.
The documents also show that Zuckerberg’s public statements are often at odds with internal company findings.
For example, Zuckerberg testified in 2015 before Congress that the business removes 94 percent of the hate speech it finds. In internal documents, scientists approximated that the business was removing less than 5 percent of all hate speech on Facebook.
Facebook spokeswoman Dani Lever denied that Zuckerberg “makes choices that cause harm” and dismissed the findings, stating they are “based upon selected files that are mischaracterized and lacking any context.”.
It isn’t clear whether the SEC is investigating Facebook or whether it would see sufficient material in the disclosures to warrant an examination of whether the business could have misled investors. In a yearly report, the SEC stated it got over 6,900 whistleblower tips in the fiscal year ending September 2020.
Several securities law experts stated it wouldn’t be simple to show misdeed.
” Regulators like tidy cases and they like where somebody is on tape doing something wrong,” stated Joshua Mitts, a securities law teacher at Columbia University. Haugen’s accusations are hardly a “tidy case,” he said.
Facebook’s public relations chief last week stated Haugen’s disclosures were an “orchestrated ‘gotcha’ project” guided by her public relations advisers.
” A curated selection out of countless files at Facebook can in no method be utilized to draw fair conclusions about us,” Facebook’s vice president for communications, John Pinette, stated in a tweet ahead of the release of the Haugen disclosures.
” Internally, we share operate in development and argument alternatives. Not every recommendation withstands the examination we must apply to decisions affecting so numerous people,” Pinette said.
Haugen has actually gotten assistance from public relations and experienced lawyers advisors. A company run by Costs Burton, an Obama White House spokesperson, is dealing with media requests, and Haugen is represented by legal representatives from Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit organization.
The disclosures made by Haugen’s attorneys illustrate a roiling internal argument at Facebook at the same time it has actually remained in a severe external spotlight, with congressional hearings, personal privacy investigations, antitrust lawsuits, and other scrutiny by outsiders.
And the upheaval might prove a bigger hazard than any external scrutiny due to the fact that Facebook relies for its success on having the ability to draw in and keep a few of the world’s leading software application engineers and technologists. If the business can’t attract, keep and inspire skilled workers, it might lose its capability to compete efficiently, it stated in its newest annual report in January.
A Facebook staff member wrote on an internal message board on Jan. 6: “We have been dealing with questions we can’t respond to from our pals, household, and industry colleagues for several years. Recruiting, in specific, has actually gotten more challenging for many years as Facebook’s ethical reputation continues to weaken (all while our technical credibility continues to increase).”.
Facebook stated in a declaration that 83 percent of its workers state they ‘d suggest it as a great location to work and that it has worked with more workers this year than in any previous year.
Causing ‘social-civil war’.
Another set of Haugen’s documents describes how the computer algorithm behind Facebook’s news feed– the formula that determines what posts individuals see and in which order– caused unintended consequences over years and months.
Facebook revealed that it would reword the algorithm in January 2018, stating it would highlight “meaningful social interactions” and offer more weight to remarks, responses, and re-shares among pals, rather than posts from companies and brand names.
By the next year, the changes had actually resounded throughout European politics.
Facebook was accountable for a “social-civil war” in online political discourse in Poland, the individual said, passing on a phrase from discussions with political operatives there. (The Facebook worker doesn’t name the political celebrations or the operatives involved in the “social-civil war” or what concerns were at the leading edge. Extremist political parties in numerous countries celebrated the method the brand-new algorithm rewarded their “provocation strategies” for topics such as immigration, the Facebook staff member composed.
Studying the effect of the algorithm modification ended up being a concern for lots of economists, statisticians, and others who operate at Facebook studying the platform, the documents reveal. A research study posted internally in December 2019 stated Facebook’s algorithms “are not neutral” however rather value content that will get a reaction, any response, with the result that “outrage and misinformation are more likely to be viral.”
” We understand that lots of things that produce engagement on our platform leave users divided and depressed,” composed the researcher, whose name was redacted.
Some securities law professionals stated allegations like Haugen’s wouldn’t necessarily trigger an SEC examination.
” Do they actually go to the core of what the SEC is required to police?” asked Charles Clark, a former assistant director of the SEC’s enforcement division, who stated parts of the allegations didn’t appear to clearly violate securities law. “Some of what she’s complaining about is essential to Congress and is crucial to the world at big however isn’t actually connected to the required of the SEC.”
Clark included, however, that a person of Haugen’s claims– that Facebook is possibly pumping up user counts and other metrics important to advertisers– “is the kind of matter that the SEC has focused on for numerous years.”
Securities law professionals likewise don’t eliminate how the SEC might react. Harvey Pitt, a former SEC chair, said that he thinks Haugen’s claims are reliable which the commission must examine whether Facebook fulfilled its legal commitments in making disclosures to investors.
Even that reaction is telling—- if Facebook has more files that would tell a fuller story, why not release them? (Throughout her Senate testimony Facebook’s Davis stated Facebook is “looking for methods to launch more research.”).
The move appears to be a clear effort to turn the page, but a fresh coat of paint will not fix the underlying concerns outlined in the documents– only Facebook, or whatever it may soon be called, can do that.
The spokesperson likewise stated Facebook has “40,000 people working on the security and security on our platform, including 15,000 individuals who review material in more than 70 languages working in more than 20 areas all throughout the world to support our community.”.
Facebook was responsible for a “social-civil war” in online political discourse in Poland, the individual stated, passing on a phrase from conversations with political operatives there.
TikTok and Snap want to prove they’re not Facebook – Whistleblowers, PR Nightmares, and Papers Oh My!
Snap, TikTok, and YouTube set out with one important goal for Tuesday’s Senate hearing on child safety: to convince lawmakers that they are nothing like Facebook. While lawmakers were encouraged by the companies’ transparency, their humble approach hasn’t dissuaded lawmakers from pursuing new legislation.
While YouTube’s parent company Google has testified before, it was the first time representatives from Snap and TikTok testified before Congress, and they came prepared to differentiate themselves from the social media giant at the center of yet another series of scandals. It was Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s leaks that led senators to pursue these hearings. The Facebook Papers loomed over the event, reinforcing Snap and TikTok’s desire to set themselves apart and promising Congress greater transparency into their internal research and algorithms.
“Snapchat was built as an antidote to social media,” Jennifer Stout, Snap’s vice president of global public policy, said on Tuesday, attempting to remove Snapchat from the Facebook comparison. “In fact, we describe ourselves as a camera company.”
“TikTok is a global entertainment platform where people create and watch short-form videos,” said Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s vice president and head of public policy for the Americas. Beckerman continued, noting that direct messages and other social features are turned off by default for young users.
Still, the testifying companies’ statements did not quell lawmakers who feared these platforms could be used in the same harmful ways as Facebook and Instagram.
“Being different from Facebook is not a defense,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), chair of the subcommittee, said in his opening remarks on Tuesday. “That bar is in the gutter. It’s not a defense to say that you are different.”
Before Tuesday’s hearing, lawmakers brought in Facebook head of safety Antigone Davis and whistleblower Frances Haugen to discuss how the company’s products, like Instagram, drive young users to content encouraging self-harm and unhealthy behaviors. For years, lawmakers have vowed to produce new legislation to protect children online, but recent Wall Street Journal reporting on a cache of internal Facebook documents leaked by Haugen breathed new life into their willingness to regulate tech.
Specifically, lawmakers pointed to internal research from Facebook noting that Instagram makes “body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.”
At a September hearing, lawmakers noted Davis’ unwillingness to answer questions and her refusal to publish Facebook’s entire body of research on the effects its platforms have on young users.
“I don’t understand, Ms. Davis, how you can deny that Instagram isn’t exploiting young users for its own profits?” Blumenthal asked her at the time. “This research is a bombshell. It is powerful, gripping riveting evidence that Facebook knows of the harmful effects of its site on children and that it has concealed those facts and findings.”
While Facebook may have refused to publish the research, reporters from a variety of different news publications gained access to additional documents leaked by Haugen and authored a deluge of articles on Monday examining Facebook’s own research and documents on teens and other issues like content moderation lovingly titled the “Facebook Papers.”
Clearly, Snap, TikTok, and YouTube didn’t want to be on the receiving end of their own “Papers” scandals. During Tuesday’s hearing, all three companies committed to releasing research, data, and independent studies they have conducted to Congress. Lawmakers like Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said that the committee could send these documents to independent experts to review.
In a press call with reporters Tuesday, Blumenthal said that his subcommittee would “hold them” to that promise and that lawmakers were “going to pursue legislation,” including updates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and a potential markup on the KIDS Act. The latter bill would place new limits on the types of features and content tech companies could provide for children under the age of 16.
Even as Snap, TikTok, and YouTube try to remove themselves from Facebook’s toxic regulatory groundswell, CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to pull them closer in the company’s latest earnings call on Monday. Zuckerberg explained that the company has made changes to its services to support older users, many of whom don’t use platforms like Snap and TikTok.
“So much of our services have gotten dialed to be the best for the most people who use them, rather than specifically for young adults,” Zuckerberg said. Later, he called TikTok “one of the most effective competitors we’ve ever faced.” He also announced that the company would refresh Instagram’s app design, making its Reels product “a more central part of the experience.” Reels is Facebook’s answer to TikTok’s growing popularity with young people, allowing users to post videos in a similar style.
Still, it’s unclear when the companies that testified Tuesday plan to release the internal reporting. Snap, TikTok, and YouTube did not immediately answer requests for comment from The Verge regarding the timing of these disclosures.
From our friends at: www.theverge.com
There is so much more to come involving the Facebook papers, the whistleblower, and the public relations nightmare that now involves the integrity of the democracy of the United States of America. You can be certain that facebook is just too big to fail. They always find a way out of any trouble they seem to get into. I think we need to start looking at why that is.
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