Facebook employees say Mark Zuckerberg’s obsession with growth has transcended ethical concerns and allowed hate speech and incitement to violence to spread unchecked, according to internal messages leaked to the media.
“History will not judge us kindly,” a staff member reportedly wrote on the day of the Jan.6 riots on Capitol Hill, which were staged in part via Facebook.
âWe have been fueling this fire for a long time and we shouldn’t be surprised that it is now out of control,â wrote another Facebook staff member, according to the Atlantic.
Facebook employees who had spent months worrying about the engagement-obsessed algorithms of the social media company pushing users towards extreme, conspiratorial content felt betrayed by a lack of action on the part of the company. ‘business, according to the report.
In August 2020, an employee working in Facebook’s Integrity team complained that any proposed design changes that would reduce user exposure to extreme content like the QAnon conspiracy theory had been systematically dismissed in favor of ‘increased user engagement.
The employee accused the company of being “willing to act only after things have turned dire,” according to the Atlantic.
âPersonally, during the time we hesitated, I saw people from my hometown going deeper and deeper into the QAnon Burrow and the anti-mask / anti-vax Covid plot on FB,â added the ’employee. âIt was painful to watch. ”
Other Facebook employees, meanwhile, accused Zuckerberg of personally intervening to protect politicians who broke the company’s content moderation rules, according to the Financial Times.
In one of those cases in 2019, Facebook moderators deleted a video that falsely said that abortions are “never medically necessary.”
After Republican politicians, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, complained about the move, Zuckerberg was personally involved in Facebook’s decision to put the video back online, the outlet said.
Many Facebook employees also believe the company unfairly makes exceptions to its fake news policy when dealing with certain publishers.
Measures to remove “repeat offenders” from Facebook were scrapped after being “influenced by public policy contributions,” an employee said in a December 2020 note reported by the Financial Times, referring to the powerful branch of Facebook based in Washington, DC led by former Joel Kaplan, a member of the Bush administration.
In particular, Facebook is giving special treatment to conservative editors, including Breitbart, Diamond and Silk, Charlie Kirk and PragerU, the employee said.
Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Atlantic and Financial Times reports.
Company spokesman Joe Osborne told the Financial Times: âAt the heart of these stories is a premise that is wrong. Yes, we are a business and we make a profit, but the idea that we do so at the expense of the safety or well-being of people misunderstands where our own business interests lie. The truth is, we’ve invested $ 13 billion and have over 40,000 people doing a job: keeping people safe on Facebook. ”
Monday’s articles, which arrive the same day Facebook is set to release third quarter results, are part of a larger series of reports based on documents leaked under embargo by whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Other documents leaked by Haugen reportedly showed that Facebook misled investors and masked slowing growth among critical demographics like young users in the United States, as well as failed to crack down on human trafficking. human beings on the site.
Facebook shares were trading up 0.4% to $ 325.75 on Monday morning – but have fallen more than 15% since early September as Haugen shared internal company documents with reporters and reported called on lawmakers to regulate the tech giant.