Mark Zuckerberg strikes back at Facebook’s whistleblower claim

Frances Haugen’s testimony that the social networking company puts profits in front of people ‘just not true’

Mark Zuckerberg has hit back at the testimony of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, saying she claims the company is making profits in terms of people’s safety is “just not true”.

In a blog post, the Facebook founder and CEO addressed one of the most damaging statements in Haugen’s opening speech to US senators Tuesday that Facebook puts “astronomical profits ahead of people”.

“The core of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profits over safety and well-being. That’s just not true, ”he said.

He added: “The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We monetize ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they do not want their ads next to harmful or angry content. ”

Zuckerberg said many of the allegations Haugen – and in the Wall Street Journal, based on documents she leaked – “do not make sense.” The most damaging reporting in the WSJ, repeated for a long time by Haugen in testimony to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, was that Facebook did not deal with internal research that showed that its Instagram app was harm teens’ mental health.

“Many of the allegations make no sense. If we were to ignore research, then why should we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? ” he said.

In response to Haugen’s claims that Facebook’s attempts to limit harmful content were constantly hampered by a lack of staff, he said: “If we did not care to fight harmful content, why should we hire so many more people dedicated to this? than any other company in our space – even those bigger than us? If we wanted to hide our results, then why would we have established an industry-leading standard for transparency and reporting on what we do? ”

Haugen’s testimony and accompanying statements from US senators during the hearing repeatedly questioned whether one could trust Facebook. “Facebook has not deserved a right to just have blind trust in them,” said Haugen, a former Facebook employee who worked with the company’s unit that monitors electoral interference. before she stopped in May.

Zuckerberg said a change to Facebook’s news feed algorithm in 2018 was implemented because it increased well-being. According to Haugen, internal Facebook research showed that the change to News Feed – a customized content roll that is a central part of Facebook users’ interaction with the platform – had reinforced divisive content.

Zuckerberg said: “This change showed fewer viral videos and more content from friends and family – which we knew would mean less time spent on Facebook, but the study suggested it was right for people’s well-being. Is this something a company focused on profits over people would do? ”

Zuckerberg spoke to company staff in the Facebook post late Tuesday, saying he expected many employees would not recognize the business portrayed in the WSJ coverage and Haugen’s testimony.

“I’m sure many of you have found the latest coverage difficult to read because it just does not reflect the company we know,” he wrote. “We are deeply concerned about issues such as safety, well-being and mental health. It’s hard to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just do not recognize the false image of the company being painted. ”

Zuckerberg opened the post with a reference to Monday’s platform break as the company’s services – including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms – went offline for almost six hours. Facebook has 3.5 billion active monthly users across its platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp.

“The deeper concern of an outage like this is not how many people switch to competitive services or how much money we lose, but what it means for the people who trust our services to communicate with their loved ones, run their businesses or support their communities, ”he said.

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