Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg insisted that misinformation and political polarization are not “primarily about social media” — and he complained about a raft of critical articles released in recent days based on internal documents leaked by ex-employees.
On the social giant’s third-quarter earnings call, Zuckerberg claimed he welcomed scrutiny of Facebook. “But my view is what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company,” Zuckerberg said.
“It makes a good soundbite to say we don’t prioritize safety over profits,” he continued, alluding to allegations by whistleblower Frances Haugen. But the reality, he said, is that ensuring safety on Facebook’s platforms is a matter of balancing “difficult” tradeoffs.
“I’m proud of our record,” Zuckerberg said. “We have made massive investments in safety and security.” He repeated Facebook talking points that the company now has more than 40,000 employees dedicated to safety and security and that the company plans to spend more than $5 billion on safety and security in 2021 — more, he claimed, than any other tech company even adjusted for Facebook’s massive size.
“I think any honest account of how we’ve handled these issues should take [that] into account,” he said.
Zuckerberg also argued that Facebook and other social media aren’t the primary reasons for the rise of misinformation and hate speech. Political “polarization started rising in the U.S. before I was born,” he said.
Facebook is the subject of a new stream of critical articles, based on documents, dubbed “The Facebook Papers,” was obtained by a consortium of 17 U.S. news organizations through a lawyer for ex-employee Frances Haugen, who had filed them with the SEC and provided redacted versions to Congress. According to multiple reports based on the documents, senior Facebook execs have repeatedly ignored or downplayed employee concerns about misinformation and other harmful content.
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