What We Know So Far — And What Else Is Coming – Name Change Won’t Help

What We Know So Far — And What Else Is Coming

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From Facebook – It must be rough when your own platform has so many negative things to embed.


Facebook is no stranger to the fight of public relations concerns, whistleblowers, and even the democratic procedure. As of late it has actually been put under much different scrutiny. One that has clarified what lots of people have actually believed for several years. Facebook has a agenda other than to “give individuals the power to develop community and bring the world closer together.”

It now appears that “Facebook deceived investors and the public about its operations, perpetuating false information and violent extremism connected to the 2020 election and January 6th insurrection.”– Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen

Leaked files had begun appearing in the Wall Street Journal and observations started to catch the eyes of legislators around the world.

The “Facebook Papers” nevertheless, and the lots of stories still to come from their introduction into the public realm, touch on much deeper concerns about Facebook as a whole. Facebook’s strategies to fighting hate speech and false information, managing worldwide development, securing younger users on its platform, and even its ability to accurately measure the size of its huge audience are all now put on major blast.

As we watch this huge business evade and weave away such accusations, one thing remains very evident. Facebook has ended up being too huge to stop working! The question we need to ask is … are they actually capable of managing the “real-world” damages from its terribly large platforms?

Facebook tries to turn the page

Facebook, for its part, has actually consistently attempted to challenge Haugen and said her testament and reports on the documents mischaracterize its efforts and actions.

“At the heart of these stories is a premise which is incorrect,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNN. “Yes, we’re an organization and we make a profit, but the idea that we do so at the expenditure of individuals’s safety or health and wellbeing misunderstands where our own commercial interests lie.”
In a tweet thread recently, 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 method be utilized to draw reasonable conclusions about us.” Even that response is informing—- if Facebook has more files that would tell a fuller story, why not release them? (During her Senate testament Facebook’s Davis said Facebook is “looking for methods to release more research study.”).

A chest of internal Facebook files leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen has actually started a wave of protection of the company, beginning with the Wall Street Journal’s “Facebook Files” and now as a consortium of other news companies roll out stories on the same files.

A trove of internal Facebook files leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen has actually 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 files.

Rather, Facebook is now supposedly planning to rebrand itself under a brand-new name as early as this week, as the wave of crucial protection continues. (Facebook previously declined to discuss this report.) The move seems a clear effort to turn the page, however a fresh coat of paint won’t repair the underlying concerns described in the documents– only 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 study about a violent Mexican drug cartel, known as Cartél Jalisco Nueva Generación. The cartel was stated to be using the platform to post violent material and recruit new members using the acronym “CJNG,” even though it had actually been designated internally as one of the “Unsafe Individuals and Organizations” whose content ought to be eliminated. Facebook told the Journal at the time that it was purchasing artificial intelligence to strengthen its enforcement against such groups.
Regardless of the Journal’s report last month, CNN last week determined troubling content linked to the group on Instagram, including pictures of weapons, and image and video posts in which individuals appear to have been shot or beheaded. After CNN asked Facebook about the posts, a spokesperson confirmed that multiple videos CNN flagged were gotten rid of for breaking the company’s policies, and at least one post had a caution added.

Facebook understood it was being used to incite violence in Ethiopia. It did little to stop the spread, files reveal.

Haugen has actually suggested Facebook’s failure to repair such problems remains in part because it prioritizes earnings over social good, and, in many cases, because the business does not have the capacity to put out its many fires at when.
” Facebook is very very finely staffed … and this is since there are a lot of technologists that look at what Facebook has done and their aversion to accept responsibility, and individuals simply aren’t ready to work there,” Haugen stated in a rundown with the “Facebook Papers” consortium last week. “So they have to make really, very, very intentional options on what does or does not get accomplished.”.

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 company’s yearly income topped $85 billion in 2015 and its revenue struck $29 billion.) The representative likewise said Facebook has “40,000 individuals dealing with the safety and security on our platform, including 15,000 people who evaluate content in more than 70 languages working in more than 20 places all throughout the world to support our neighborhood.”.
” We have likewise taken down over 150 networks looking for to control public debate since 2017, and they have come from in over 50 nations, with the bulk coming from or focused beyond the US,” the spokesperson said. “Our performance history reveals that we crackdown on abuse outside the United States with the very same intensity that we apply in the US.”.

Still, the documents suggest that the company has much more work to do to get rid of all of the many harms laid out in the files and to address the unexpected effects of Facebook’s unmatched reach and combination into our lives.

How Facebook Is Attempting To Keep Users.

Facebook executives just recently confessed that more youthful teens are deserting the site for more recent mobile messaging and social sharing apps, while a research study from previously this year found that the social network lost 11 million active users in general in the U.S. and Britain. Here are some choices Facebook is thinking about to retain its existing users and win back those who have defected:.

Zuckerberg’s public claims often contravene internal research study.

Haugen references Zuckerberg’s public declarations at least 20 times in her SEC grievances, asserting that the CEO’s distinct degree of control over Facebook forces him to bear ultimate obligation for a list of societal damages triggered by the business’s relentless pursuit of development.

The files also reveal that Zuckerberg’s public statements are typically at chances with internal company findings.

For example, Zuckerberg testified last year prior to Congress that the company gets rid of 94 percent of the hate speech it finds. In internal files, researchers approximated that the company was eliminating less than 5 percent of all hate speech on Facebook.

Facebook spokeswoman Dani Lever rejected that Zuckerberg “makes decisions that cause damage” and dismissed the findings, saying they are “based upon selected documents that are mischaracterized and without any context.”.

It isn’t clear whether the SEC is investigating Facebook or whether it would see sufficient material in the disclosures to require an investigation of whether the business could have misled financiers. In a yearly report, the SEC stated it received over 6,900 whistleblower ideas in the financial year ending September 2020.

Numerous securities law professionals stated it would not be simple to show misbehavior.

” Regulators like clean cases and they like where somebody is on tape doing something wrong,” said Joshua Mitts, a securities law teacher at Columbia University. Haugen’s allegations are hardly a “tidy case,” he stated.

Facebook pushback.

Facebook’s public relations chief recently stated Haugen’s disclosures were an “orchestrated ‘gotcha’ project” directed by her public relations consultants.

” A curated choice out of countless documents at Facebook can in no other way be used to draw reasonable 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 dispute alternatives. Not every idea withstands the examination we must apply to choices affecting many people,” Pinette stated.

Haugen has gotten help from skilled lawyers and public relations advisers. A company run by Costs Burton, an Obama White House spokesperson, is managing media requests, and Haugen is represented by attorneys from Whistleblower Help, a not-for-profit organization.

The disclosures made by Haugen’s lawyers highlight a roiling internal dispute at Facebook at the same time it has remained in a severe external spotlight, with congressional hearings, personal privacy examinations, antitrust suits, and other examination by outsiders.

And the turmoil might prove a larger danger than any external analysis due to the fact that Facebook relies for its success on being able to attract and keep a few of the world’s top software application engineers and technologists. If the business can’t draw in, maintain and inspire skilled employees, it might lose its capability to complete successfully, it said in its latest 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 address from our friends, family, and industry coworkers for many years. Recruiting, in specific, has actually gotten harder for many years as Facebook’s ethical credibility continues to degrade (all while our technical credibility continues to increase).”.

Facebook stated in a statement that 83 percent of its staff members say they ‘d recommend it as a terrific place to work which it has employed more employees this year than in any previous year.

Triggering ‘social-civil war’.
Another set of Haugen’s files describes how the computer algorithm behind Facebook’s news feed– the formula that identifies what posts people see and in which order– led to unintended effects over years and months.

Facebook revealed that it would rewrite the algorithm in January 2018, stating it would highlight “meaningful social interactions” and provide more weight to comments, responses, and re-shares among pals, instead of posts from organizations and brand names.

By the next year, the modifications had actually reverberated throughout European politics.

Facebook was accountable for a “social-civil war” in online political discourse in Poland, the individual stated, passing on an expression from discussions with political operatives there. (The Facebook staff member doesn’t name the political parties or the operatives included in the “social-civil war” or what concerns were at the forefront. Extremist political parties in different countries celebrated the way the brand-new algorithm rewarded their “justification strategies” for topics such as immigration, the Facebook staff member composed.

Studying the impact of the algorithm modification became a concern for numerous economic experts, statisticians, and others who work at Facebook studying the platform, the files reveal. A study published internally in December 2019 stated Facebook’s algorithms “are not neutral” but instead worth content that will get a reaction, any response, with the outcome that “outrage and false information are most likely to be viral.”

” We know that numerous things that create engagement on our platform leave users divided and depressed,” composed the scientist, whose name was redacted.

Potential consequences.
Some securities law experts said allegations like Haugen’s wouldn’t necessarily activate an SEC examination.

” Do they truly go to the core of what the SEC is needed 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 plainly break securities law. “A few of what she’s grumbling about is necessary to Congress and is essential to the world at large but isn’t actually tied to the required of the SEC.”

Clark added, nevertheless, that one of Haugen’s allegations– that Facebook is potentially inflating user counts and other metrics important to advertisers– “is the kind of matter that the SEC has actually concentrated on for several years.”

Securities law specialists likewise do not rule out how the SEC may respond. Harvey Pitt, a previous SEC chair, said that he believes Haugen’s claims are reliable and that the commission must investigate whether Facebook satisfied its legal responsibilities in making disclosures to investors.

Even that action is informing—- if Facebook has more documents that would inform a fuller story, why not launch them? (Throughout her Senate testament Facebook’s Davis said Facebook is “looking for ways to release more research study.”).
The relocation appears to be a clear attempt to turn the page, but a fresh coat of paint will not repair the underlying issues outlined in the files– only Facebook, or whatever it might quickly be called, can do that.
The spokesperson also stated Facebook has “40,000 people working on the security and security on our platform, consisting of 15,000 individuals who review material in more than 70 languages working in more than 20 locations all across the world to support our community.”.

Facebook was accountable for a “social-civil war” in online political discourse in Poland, the individual stated, passing on a phrase from discussions with political operatives there.

What We Know So Far — And What Else Is Coming – Data Integrity

In the last few days, Facebook was hit with a massive storm of negative stories about its company practices and platforms — and there are more to come.

So far, at least 97 articles have been published by a group of 17 media outlets that were invited by whistleblower Frances Haugen’s PR and legal team to scan the Facebook Papers, thousands of pages of internal documents Haugen took with her when she left Facebook’s integrity team. And according to one consortium member, there are six more weeks of these stories coming out as more news outlets join the group.

From CNN and Bloomberg to The Verge and The Washington Post, the consortium member outlets are all invited to download the redacted papers on Google Drive and attend briefings to get additional context on them. There is also talk of releasing the documents in their entirety to the public — not just to a group of select journalists.

“The public deserves to read the documents, not just the few dozen journalists in the consortium,” Alex Kantrowitz, publisher of Big Technology, wrote. “Society distrusts institutions when a handful of gatekeepers withhold information that applies to their lives.”

Here are some of the major stories coming out of the Facebook Papers, many documenting the company’s priorities over profit and Western nations and its losing battle over younger users to competitors including TikTok. A number of journalists have been reporting on these threads over the years, but now, thanks to Haugen’s leaks, there will be much greater insight into how Facebook makes decisions and how it views its role in the world.

Facebook has been aware of human trafficking issues for years

As detailed in CNN Business, the company has known about human trafficking happening on its platform at least since 2018. The documents show that women were trafficked on Facebook and subjected to physical and sexual abuse while being deprived of food and access to their travel documents. Facebook even gave it an acronym, “HEx”, for human exploitation. At one point, Apple threatened to ban Facebook and Instagram from its app store over this. Recent reports suggest the company is struggling to combat this type of content, with a January 2020 document saying “our platform enables all three stages of the human exploitation lifecycle (recruitment, facilitation, exploitation) via complex real-world networks.”

The content moderation problems are much worse around the world

What Facebook struggles with in North America in terms of hate speech, misinformation and violent content isn’t even half of it. It turns out, those problems are much worse in many parts of the developing world — especially in India. The Facebook Papers reveal how Facebook has studied its approach in other countries and was very aware of the lack of moderation resources in non-English speaking countries, leaving the platform in those regions exposed to bad actors. In a 2020 report, Facebook documented how the majority (84%) of its misinformation efforts were dedicated to the US, and just 16% going to the “rest of world.” Even with India being Facebook’s largest market, users there lack the critical protections that exist in English-speaking countries.

It’s losing the fight over teen users

Per The Verge, Facebook’s aging user base is causing the platform to lose out on the younger users. Increasingly, Snap and TikTok have become major competitors as Facebook became seen as a network for older people. According to reports, teenage users on Facebook in the U.S. declined by 13% since 2019 and is projected to drop 45% in the next two years. As The Wall Street Journal reported, the company’s research suggests that Instagram can have harmful effects on teen users, especially those facing eating disorders, suicide and body image issues. There’s an overall decline in Facebook’s daily users as the company pivots to maintain its dominance over those aged 18 to 29.

Facebook played a major role leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection

Facebook had increased efforts to police violent content and misinformation leading up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. However, after Nov. 6 the company rolled back these safeguarding measures even as a Stop the Steal group surfaced and dozens of similar groups emerged. Inside Facebook, the alarm sounded as users reported “false news” and hit almost 40,000 per hour, according to internal reports. As The Washington Post reported, by the time Facebook tried to pivot back to these measures, it was already too late — the pro-Trump riots were already happening at the Capitol.

Facebook experimented with removing its News Feed algorithm, but eventually gave up

As Alex Kantrowitz wrote in his newsletter, a Facebook researcher attempted in 2018 to shut off the News Feed ranking algorithm for .05% of users. An internal report on the experiment found that without the algorithm, engagement on Facebook dropped significantly — users hid 50% more posts and content from Facebook Groups rose. User sessions declined, and social interactions between friends dropped by 20%. Overall, turning the ranking algorithm off led to a worse experience on the platform, but it actually made Facebook more money (because users saw more ads). But completely doing away with the ranking algorithm also proved other larger integrity issues would surface, including getting exploited by bad actors.

Facebook ignored findings on anti-vaccination content because it was worried about profit

When Facebook was hit with an increase in anti-vaccination content in March, some employees did a study on altering how these posts about vaccines were ranked in the News Feed. Researchers realized that changing the ranking could help reduce the spread of misleading information on vaccines. Instead, it could offer up posts from legitimate sources including the World Health Organization. But the company instead ignored suggestions from this study and delayed making some of these changes until April. Another researcher’s suggestion of disabling comments on vaccine posts in March was also ignored. Instead, Mark Zuckerberg said they would start labeling posts that said vaccines were safe. Critics contend this move would ensure the high engagement on misinformation would continue.

From our friends at: www.yahoo.com

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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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