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5 things revealed from leaked documents

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The docs provide rare, vivid insight into Facebook’s methods.

Facebook has struggled to attract younger users for more than a decade, and some senior employees are concerned about the company’s inability to engage teenagers. When asked by analysts about growth prospects, Facebook executives often paint a rosier picture than the one depicted by internal research, a whistle-blower alleges.

These are some of the findings outlined in a cache of disclosures made to the US Securities and Exchange Commission by Frances Haugen, a former product manager at Facebook, and provided to Congress in modified form by her legal counsel. A consortium of 17 US news organizations, including Bloomberg, has obtained the revised version obtained by Congress.

The documents provide rare, vivid insight into the ways Facebook, under the guidance of Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, has built a Silicon Valley social media platform — often posting lavish sales and profit gains — in its mission to let users in. also faltered. The tools they need to build community and bring the world together.

In its defense, Facebook points to new products and services it is developing to attract younger users; It notes that hate speech represents less than 1% of the overall content on its platform and is declining; It says it uses research, hypothetical tests and other methods to analyze how it recommends content and improves efforts to stop the spread of harmful content. Facebook also argues that it has made substantial disclosures regarding the development and that the document Haugen shared with the SEC represents a “curated selection” that can be “used in any way to draw reasonable conclusions about us”. Can’t be done.”

Still, the company’s missteps are starting to take a toll. Some employees at the Document Chronicle are demoralized and disagree on the best way to deal with bad content; Facebook shares have fallen more than 10% since the Wall Street Journal began publishing stories based on whistleblower documents; And lawmakers, who are already weighing in on legislation reining in Facebook’s power, are calling for even more stringent oversight.

Other insights gleaned from the documents, researchers and people familiar with Facebook, including current and former employees:

  • Facebook executives have long known that the platform’s hate speech problem was much bigger and deeper than the company reported. While Facebook prioritizes rooting out violence and hateful content in English-speaking Western countries, it ignores developing regions that are more vulnerable to real-world damage from negativity on social media.
  • A Facebook team working to stem the flow of harmful posts was hampered by staffing shortages, limitations placed on its product development, and the platform’s engagement-focused algorithms, which often promote content that is false and can be divisive.
  • Facebook staff studying misinformation have concluded that the social network’s core products contribute to the spread of harmful content, and that the company’s own efforts to suppress misinformation are sometimes undermined by political considerations.
  • In 2019, Facebook set up a test account in India to determine how its tools affected people in its most important market; Within three weeks, the fictional user’s account had turned into a vortex of fake news and incendiary images.
  • Facebook’s own employees, including internal researchers, blamed the company on January 6 for failing to stem the spread of groups inciting violence.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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