'Facebook Papers' show how social media giant prioritises profit over public good

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

 Facebook, the biggest social media platform in the world, has come under attack following leaking of internal company documents that reveal disturbing insight into how the company prioritises profit over societal good.

The leak, dubbed ‘The Facebook Papers’ also give a deep insight into how the social media giant deals with misinformation, hate speech moderation, internal research on its newsfeed algorithm and communication.

The latest leak is set to bring back the role of the company in manipulating elections after it was fingered as having been used by Cambridge Analytica to use data to change behaviours, including that of  voters in Kenya.

The dossier also shows how human traffickers use its platforms to exploit poor populations and how it harms young people and more.

The company has on numerous occasions rejected the claims, saying they are misleading but latest revelations paint a picture of a company that is a willing participant or incapable of dealing with dealing with the online crimes happening on its platforms.

The revelations come at time when the company is trying to rebrand itself even as it appears there is no end in sight for its mounting troubles.

The Treasure-trove of hundreds of internal company documents was included in disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress, but in redacted form.

But a consortium of 17 news organisations in the US come together to scrutinise the redacted documents and have started publishing a series of stories collectively named ‘The Facebook Papers’ bringing the social media giant back in the frontline of just what is wrong with social media.

The fresh trouble at the company started last week when whistle-blower Frances Haugen leaked tens of thousands of pages of internal documents to the Wall Street Journal, which informed the “Facebook Files” series.

But what is set to concern authorities around the world is its role in perpetuating political violence.

The CNN reports that one of Haugen's central allegations about the company focuses on the attack on the Capitol.

In a SEC disclosure she alleges, "Facebook misled investors and the public about its role perpetuating misinformation and violent extremism relating to the 2020 election and January 6th insurrection."

CNN says that Facebook has denied the premise of Haugen's conclusions and says Haugen has cherry-picked documents to present an unfair portrayal of the company.

"The responsibility for the violence that occurred on January 6 lies with those who attacked our Capitol and those who encouraged them. We took steps to limit the content that sought to delegitimize the election, including labeling candidates' posts with the latest vote count after Mr. Trump prematurely declared victory, pausing new political advertising and removing the original #StopTheSteal Group in November," Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told CNN Friday.

The analysis found that the policies and procedures Facebook had in place were simply not up to the task of slowing, much less halting, the "meteoric" growth of Stop the Steal. For instance, those behind the analysis noted that Facebook treated each piece of content and person or group within Stop the Steal individually, rather than as part of a whole, with dire results.

The Washington Post story out on Monday said Zuckerberg had personally signed off on a push from Vietnam's authoritarian government to limit the spread of so-called "anti-state" posts.


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