The publication of the so-called Facebook Papers, which delve into the way in which the company put profits before security and disinformation, have redoubled the pressure on its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, on the same day in which the social network presented results.
These documents, published Monday by a consortium of seventeen media including CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post, are bringing new details to the leaks of a former employee of the company Frances Haugen, published weeks ago by The Wall Street Journal.
The policy of putting economic results before security on the network, the lack of control in the face of disinformation or the absence of internal precautionary measures just before the assault on Capitol Hill are some of the issues highlighted in the new publications about the social network.
The company defended itself against the publication of the Papers by insisting in a statement that “the premise of all these stories is false” because, although Facebook is a business that seeks to make profits, the idea that they do so at the expense of people’s safety or well-being “is a misinterpretation.”
Among the new revelations is that the social network company barely devotes resources to combating false information outside the United States, and its effectiveness is almost nil in developing countries such as India, currently the country with the most Facebook users in the world.
According to a report prepared by the company itself, in 2020, 84% of the actions against false information on Facebook and Instagram (owned by the company) occurred in the US, despite the fact that the vast majority of its users are outside that country.
The documents also describe how the company fell into neglect after last November’s U.S. presidential election and deactivated precautionary measures before the January 6 assault on Capitol Hill.
According to published reports, many of the employees who in the months leading up to the election had been part of the team working to prevent fake news and hateful content took leave of absence or changed positions after the election.
In addition, Facebook reversed dozens of measures it had activated to avoid chaos on election day, such as the suppression of certain groups, and the civic integrity team was practically disbanded for fear of the criticism that its members increasingly dedicated to the company itself.
The information contained in the Papers also provides further details about the company’s lack of resources devoted to removing hate speech, and indicates that two years ago the company reduced the amount of time human moderators spent reviewing user complaints about hate speech.
Facebook employees themselves expressed skepticism in internal communications about the possibility that, in the future, the social network will be able to effectively identify most of the hate content on the platform.
Thus, according to the estimates of one employee, the automatic monitoring systems remove content that generates only 2% of the views of hate speech on the platform, while estimates by another group of employees in March of this year raise that percentage to between 3% and 5%.
Despite the intense scrutiny it is receiving from the press and politicians, Facebook continues to gain users and skyrocket its profits, which in the first nine months of the year were up 62% over the same period in 2020.