Facebook was on offense this weekend as the clock was ticking for a company whistleblower coming forward with revelations about the social network.
The whistleblower is due to reveal his identity on the news program 60 minutes on Sunday. The former employee, who turned over thousands of potentially damaging documents in relation to company policy, is alleged to have destroyed security protections shortly after the 2020 election, leading to the fallout and the Capitol riots. contributed; Failed or disregarded to disclose harmful research; And benefited from users sharing divisive content.
The social media giant has been accused of failing to adequately address the known harmful consequences of its platform and its tools. Chief among the criticisms is that Facebook has contributed to the storming of the Capitol on January 6, political polarization across the US, and even negatively affected the mental health of adolescents.
Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg sent out an internal memo on Friday responding to myriad criticisms of the company. He then appeared on CNN on Sunday to make several similar arguments.
The whistleblower’s documents and allegations have spawned a series of articles wall street journal and later announced a Senate hearing.
The Consumer Protection Subcommittee will hold its second hearing on Tuesday about the impact of Instagram — which is owned by Facebook — on children. The whistleblower is expected to provide evidence this week.
Friday’s memorandum from Mr. Clegg, retrieved by the new York Times and published full, disputed allegations and attempted to induce others to come across as “misleading”.
“This Sunday night, a former employee leaking internal company material to the Journal will appear in a segment on 60 Minutes on CBS,” the memo told employees.
“We understand that the piece is likely to emphasize that we contribute to polarization in the United States, and suggest that the extraordinary steps we took for the 2020 election were too soon to be relaxed and had contributed to the magnitude of the events of 6 January.th in the capital. “
It continued: “Social media has had a major impact on society in recent years, and Facebook is often a place where much of this debate takes place,” the Times quoted the memo as saying.
“But the evidence that is there does not support the idea that Facebook, or social media in general, is the primary cause of polarization.”
Mr Clegg doubled down on those points during Sunday’s appearance reliable sources where host Brian Stelter grilled him saying that it looked like he was “interviewing the head of a tobacco company right now”.
The British politician-turned-Facebook executive said he considers any comparison between the tobacco industry and Facebook “deeply wrong”.
“I don’t think it’s remotely like tobacco,” he said. “Social media apps … people download them to their phones. And why do they do it? There must be a reason why a third of the world’s population enjoys using these apps. They do it because They like to exchange their thoughts, feelings.”
Other documents and whistleblower claims suggest the company was conducting harmful research under the rug. Mr Clegg denied it and threw it back on the CNN host on Sunday.
“I’m sure CNN has internal research into how different demographics of the population react to your program,” he said. “And some of it will be public and some will be internal. Facebook is no different. “
He countered that, instead of ignoring the problems, “we need to be open and accepting” the wrong move on Facebook.
“There’s no such thing as a perfect in social media… we don’t work out regardless,” he said.
Allegations surfaced last week that Instagram may be perpetuating girls’ body image issues and promoting other problematic trends. This led the company to halt development of an Instagram service for children 13 and under.
Facebook algorithms have also come under fire, most notably the changes to the News Feed in 2018. Mr Clegg stressed that social media was only one of many factors in an ever-changing world.
“I think it would be very easy to suggest, of course, that with an algorithm, somehow all the perverse polarization in American politics would suddenly vanish,” he said on Sunday.
“I think it frees people from asking difficult questions about the historical, cultural, social and economic reasons that have led to politics in America today.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Facebook