Facebook knows there are many flaws that it can't fix


Facebook's Vice President of Global Affairs has criticized a series of stories in the Wall Street Journal that the social network is aware of many issues across its platforms that cause harm to users, but does little to fix them. "It's legitimate to be held accountable for how we dealt with some of the issues described in the newspaper's reporting, but the stories contain intentionally wrong descriptions of what we're trying to do and give egregiously false motivations to the Facebook leadership and its employees," Nick Clegg wrote in a blog post.


The newspaper published a comprehensive series of reported stories about the platform, based on its review of internal documents, concluding that the company's platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways that only the company understands. The stories included details about the XCheck program, which the newspaper found excluded celebrities from the platform's standard moderation rules.


It provided a look at internal research showing that the photo-sharing platform Instagram is a mental health issue for younger users. It also shows how the company's changes to the algorithm increased engagement but made users angrier.


In addition, it provided insight into employee concerns about how the company's platforms could be used for human trafficking. And how CEO Mark Zuckerberg's initiative to promote Covid19 vaccines attracted anti-vaccination activists who flooded the platform with negative comments. Clegg explained that the frequency of platform users in the United States about the vaccine has decreased by about 50 percent since January.


Two senators on the Commerce Committee that oversees consumer protection said they were launching an investigation. This follows a newspaper report that the company was aware that the Instagram platform could be harmful to teenage girls.


The Wall Street Journal writes about platform problems


"The claim that Facebook conducts research and then systematically and deliberately ignores it if the results are inappropriate for the company is false," Clegg said in the blog post. We fundamentally reject this misrepresentation of our work. This challenges the motivation and hard work of the thousands of researchers, policy experts, and engineers at the company who strive to improve the quality of our products and understand their broader impact (both positive and negative).

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