Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has dismissed recent charges from a supposed ‘whistleblower’ who said the social media giant allows hate and misinformation to thrive on its platform, rejecting her allegations as a “false narrative.”
Zuckerberg took to his own platform on Tuesday night with a massive, 1,300-word essay, saying he wanted to share a note he wrote to all company employees hours after a self-avowed Facebook ‘whistleblower’ testified before US lawmakers, leveling withering critiques against the site and its business practices.
“Now that today’s testimony is over, I wanted to reflect on the public debate we’re in,” the CEO wrote, insisting that negative news coverage of Facebook had painted a “false picture” of the company, which he said “[cares] deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health.”
At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That’s just not true.
The Facebook chief’s lengthy post follows testimony from Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who told senators earlier on Tuesday that the company has refused to do more to scrub ‘harmful’ content from its platform, including ‘misinformation’ and posts dubbed ‘hate speech,’ saying Facebook suffers from “moral bankruptcy.”
“Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy,” Haugen told the senators during a committee hearing.
Ahead of the hearing, the ‘whistleblower’ appeared on CBS’ ‘60 Minutes’ over the weekend to offer further criticism of the social media behemoth, and also passed internal company documents to the Wall Street Journal for a recent exposé headlined ‘The Facebook Files’.
The Journal investigation, while wide-ranging, stressed one allegation from Haugen in particular – that the company had ignored its own research finding that its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, are “riddled with flaws that cause harm” to users, particularly younger age groups, and that such flaws have long been known at the very highest levels of company leadership. She suggested the firm should be doing more to send ‘harmful’ content down the memory hole and police users’ posts for naughty words and thoughts.
Zuckerberg pushed back against that charge on Tuesday, however, saying critics’ arguments “don’t make any sense.”
“If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place?” he asked, adding that his company is “committed to doing more research ourselves and making more research publicly available.”
The CEO argued that while Facebook took the initiative to create a massive research project to identify and solve certain problems, critics are merely weaponizing that work against the company to create a “false narrative.”
It’s disheartening to see that work taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative that we don’t care.
However, Zuckerberg and his detractors appear to agree on one thing – the demand for additional government regulation of platforms like Facebook. In his long-winded post on Tuesday night, the CEO argued that private companies should not be making all of their own decisions, suggesting a greater role for government officials.
“That’s why we have advocated for updated internet regulations for several years now. I have testified in Congress multiple times and asked them to update these regulations. I’ve written op-eds outlining the areas of regulation we think are most important related to elections, harmful content, privacy, and competition,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Commenting on the Facebook drama in the early hours of Wednesday morning, famed national security whistleblower Edward Snowden boiled down Zuckerberg’s 1,300-word post into a few short bullet points, noting the CEO’s calls for greater regulation of an industry he dominates while presenting his own company as “the real victim.”
“On-brand, really,” Snowden quipped.
Zuckerberg responds to a global outage and national scandal by claiming @Facebook is the real victim here, and modestly proposing Congress consider:A) legally restricting teen use of internet servicesB) identify verification mandatesC) limiting teen privacyOn-brand, really. pic.twitter.com/0hMRf5HpKf
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 6, 2021