Facebook prematurely shut down security measures designed to prevent misinformation and nuisance after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in last year’s elections, a company whistleblower blamed on the deadly January 6 attack on the US Capitol. alleged to have contributed.
The whistleblower, former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen, also stressed during an exclusive interview aired Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the 2018 change in content flow to Facebook’s News Feed contributed to more division and malfeasance in the network. Is. To bring people closer.
Despite the animosity that the new algorithms were feeding, Facebook found that they helped keep people coming back — a pattern that helped the Menlo Park, Calif., company sell more and more digital ads, which generate most of its ads. .
Haugen, who joined Facebook in 2019 after working at other Silicon Valley companies such as Google, said, “What I saw over and over again on Facebook involved interests between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. There was a conflict.” and Pinterest. And Facebook has repeatedly chosen to optimize for its interests, such as making more money.
Facebook’s annual revenue has more than doubled from $56 billion in 2018 to an estimated $119 billion this year, based on estimates from analysts surveyed by FactSet. Meanwhile, the company’s market value has grown from $375 billion at the end of 2018 to nearly $1 trillion now.
Even before the full interview surfaced, a top Facebook executive was calling the whistleblower’s allegations “misleading”.
“Social media has had a huge impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often the place where much of this debate takes place,” Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president of policy and public affairs, wrote in a memo sent Friday to Facebook employees. It happens.” . “But the evidence that is there does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media in general, is the primary cause of polarization.”
The “60 Minutes” interview has already grabbed headlines on Facebook as lawmakers and regulators around the world examine social networking’s immense power to shape opinion and its polarizing effects on society.
The reaction has intensified since the mid-September publication of The Wall Street Journal, in which Facebook’s own internal research showed that the social network’s attention-grabbing algorithms had helped fuel political discontent and that teens, had contributed to mental health and emotional problems, particularly among girls. . After copying thousands of pages of Facebook’s internal research, Haugen leaked them to the Journal to provide the foundation for a succession of stories packaged as “Facebook files.”
Although Facebook claimed that the Journal had picked out the most damaging information in internal documents to cast the company in the worst possible light, the revelations prompted an indefinite delay in the rollout of the children’s version of its popular photo- and video-sharing app. . , Instagram. Facebook currently requires people to be at least 13 years old to open an Instagram account.
Clegg was already trying to stem the fall in a 1,500-word memo warning Facebook employees that interviewing whistleblowers could subject them to more difficult questions from family and friends about the social network’s corrosive side effects.
Then on Sunday morning, Clegg appeared on CNN’s “Trusted Sources” program in another pre-emptive attempt to soften the bombings that were dropped on “60 Minutes.”
Clegg told CNN, “Even with the most sophisticated technology that I believe we deploy, even with the thousands of people that we need to know about security and Let’s try to maintain integrity.” On top of this 100% of the time. He added that because of the “instant and spontaneous form of communication” on Facebook, “I think we do more than any reasonable person would expect.”
Haugen, 37, has filed at least eight complaints with US securities regulators alleging that Facebook violated the law by withholding information about the risks posed by its social network, according to “60 Minutes.” Facebook could in return take legal action against him if it claims that it stole confidential information from the company.
“Nobody on Facebook is malevolent,” Haugen said during the interview. “But the incentives are given in the wrong way, right? As such, Facebook makes more money when you consume more content. People like to associate with things that evoke an emotional response. And the more anger they expose, the more they interact and the more they consume.”