Facebook is in trouble again but this time they are playing victim.
Facebook spent the weekend on the defensive after a series of stories in The Wall Street Journal last week exposed just how far the company has gone to prioritize profits over the health and safety of its billions of users.
It’s a familiar pattern to those who have followed the social networking giant over the past few years. Troubling anecdotes about Facebook and the behaviour of its leaders get published by a major news outlet, followed by a firestorm of criticism and threats by lawmakers to regulate the company and to call top executives before Congress.
Then Facebook half-heartedly apologizes but not before taking swipes at the accuracy of the reporting and blaming the leakers who, in this case, were company employees. On Saturday, following the in-depth series from the Journal, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, put out a blog post titled, “What the Wall Street Journal got wrong — about Facebook.”
Facebook has been running around the issues but not solving them.
The Journal’s investigation showed how Facebook has repeatedly failed to properly address crucial problems highlighted in internal studies conducted by the company’s own employees, such as how the most divisive content surfaces in so many news feed because of its high engagement.
The reports come two months after President Joe Biden said Facebook is “killing people” with misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines and after the company struggled to find a consistent message for dealing with false information about the 2020 election.
The problems highlighted by the Journal were consistent with what Facebook critics have been saying for a long time: Executives are consumed with revenue growth and engagement.
One of the stories said that CEO Mark Zuckerberg was given a recommendation by an employee about a change the company could make to reduce the algorithmic boost given to harmful content that captured eyeballs and outsized attention.
Zuckerberg responded by telling the employee he’d reject the proposal if it materially impacted users’ interactions with one another, according to the report.