Facebook in deeper crisis with new leaked documents

Facebook in deeper crisis with new leaked documents

Science & IT Deskdaily-bangladesh.com

Published: 20:44 23 October 2021  

Facebook in deeper crisis with new leaked documents

Facebook in deeper crisis with new leaked documents

Facebook faced mounting pressure on Friday after a new whistleblower accused it of knowingly hosting hate speech and illegal activity, even as leaked documents shed further light on how the company failed to heed internal concerns over election misinformation.

Allegations by the new whistleblower, who spoke to the Washington Post, were reportedly contained in a complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US agency that handles regulation to protect investors in publicly traded companies.

In the complaint, the former employee detailed how Facebook officials frequently declined to enforce safety rules for fear of angering Donald Trump and his allies or offsetting the company’s huge growth. In one alleged incident, Tucker Bounds, a Facebook communications official, dismissed concerns about the platform’s role in 2016 election manipulation.

“It will be a flash in the pan,” Bounds said, according to the affidavit, as reported by the Post. “Some legislators will get pissy. And then in a few weeks they will move on to something else. Meanwhile, we are printing money in the basement, and we are fine.”

The claims echo those of the whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who has said the company repeatedly prioritizes profit over public safety. Haugen’s recent damning testimony before the US Congress, and forthcoming testimony before the UK parliament, has prompted a major PR crisis for the social network, which is said to be readying plans for a rebrand.

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The whistleblower claims came on the same day that news outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and NBC, published reports based on internal documents shared by Haugen. The documents offer a deeper look into the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories on the platform, particularly related to the 2020 US presidential election.

The documents show that Facebook employees repeatedly flagged concerns before and after the election, when Donald Trump tried to falsely overturn Joe Biden’s victory. According to the New York Times, a company data scientist told coworkers a week after the election that 10% of all US views of political content were of posts that falsely claimed the vote was fraudulent. But as workers flagged these issues and urged the company to act, the company failed or struggled to address the problems, the Times reported.

The internal documents also show Facebook researchers have found the platform’s recommendation tools repeatedly pushed users to extremist groups, prompting internal warnings that some managers and executives ignored, NBC News reported.

In one striking internal study, a Facebook researcher created a fake profile for “Carol Smith”, conservative female user whose interests included Fox News and Donald Trump. The experiment showed that within two days, Facebook’s algorithm was recommending “Carol” join groups dedicated to QAnon, a baseless internet conspiracy theory.

The reports come as Facebook faces pressure from lawmakers on various fronts – including pending legislation from Congress, a lawsuit filed by US attorneys general, and a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit filed by the agency’s new chairwoman, Lina Khan.

DailyBangladesh/SA