Facebook’s vice president of global affairs criticized a series of stories by the Wall Street Journal that reported the social network is aware of numerous problems across its platforms that cause harm to users, but does little to fix them.
In a post on Facebook’s blog, Nick Clegg wrote that while it was “absolutely legitimate for us to be held to account for how we deal with” some of the issues outlined in the Journal reporting, the stories “contained deliberate mischaracterizations of what we are trying to do, and conferred egregiously false motives to Facebook’s leadership and employees.”
This week, the Journal published a sweeping series of deeply reported stories on Facebook, based on its review of internal documents, concluding that the company’s platforms “are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands.”
The stories included details about the XCheck program that the Journal found exempts celebrities from Facebook’s standard moderation rules; a look at internal research that shows its photo platform Instagram is problematic for younger users’ mental health; how changes Facebook made to its algorithm increased engagement but actually made users more angry; a look at employees’ concerns about how its platforms may be used in human trafficking, and how CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccines drew anti-vax activists to flood Facebook with “barrier to vaccination” content. You can read the full Facebook Files series here.
Two Senators on the Commerce Committee panel that oversees consumer protection said they were launching an investigation following the Journal’s report that Facebook was aware that Instagram could be harmful to teenage girls.
Clegg said in his blog post that the allegation that “Facebook conducts research and then systematically and willfully ignores it if the findings are inconvenient for the company” was incorrect. “[W]e fundamentally reject this mischaracterization of our work and impugning of the company’s motives.”
The Wall Street Journal did not immediately reply to emails seeking comment on Saturday.