Facebook files – WSJ

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Facebook Inc.

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knows, down to the last detail, that its platforms are riddled with damage-causing flaws, often in ways only the company fully understands. That’s the central conclusion of a Wall Street Journal series, based on a review of internal Facebook documents, including research reports, online discussions with employees, and draft presentations to senior management.

Time and time again, the documents show, Facebook researchers have identified the platform’s adverse effects. Time and time again, despite congressional hearings, its own commitments, and numerous media briefings, the company has not corrected them. The documents offer perhaps the clearest picture to date of the extent of awareness of Facebook’s issues within the company, right down to the CEO himself.

_01 | Facebook says its rules apply to everyone. Company documents reveal secret elite who are exempt

By Jeff Horwitz

Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook allows its users to speak on an equal footing with elites in politics, culture and journalism, and its standards apply to everyone. Privately, the company has built a system that has exempted high-level users from some or all of its rules. The program, known as “cross-checking” or “XCheck”, was intended as a quality control measure for large accounts. Today, it protects millions of VIPs from the company’s normal application, according to the documents. Many abuse this privilege, posting material that includes harassment and incitement to violence that would usually result in punishment. Facebook says the review of the program is fair, that it was designed for a good purpose, and that the company is working to fix it. (Listen to a related podcast.)

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_02 | Facebook knows Instagram is toxic to many teenage girls, company documents show

By Georgia Wells, Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharaman

Researchers at Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, have been studying how its photo-sharing app affects millions of young users for years. On several occasions, the company has found that Instagram is harmful to a significant percentage of them, especially teenage girls, more than other social media platforms. In public, Facebook has always played down the app’s negative effects, including in comments to Congress, and has not made its research public or available to academics or lawmakers who have requested it. In response, Facebook says the negative effects are not widespread, that mental health research is valuable, and that some of the harmful aspects are not easy to deal with. (Listen to a related podcast.)

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_03 | Facebook has tried to make its platform a healthier place. He got angrier instead.

By Keach Hagey and Jeff Horwitz

Facebook made an announced change to its algorithm in 2018 designed to improve its platform and stop signs of declining user engagement. Mr Zuckerberg said his goal is to strengthen bonds between users and improve their well-being by promoting interactions between friends and family. Within the company, the documents show, staff members warned that the change was having the opposite effect. This made Facebook and those who used it even angrier. Zuckerberg resisted some of his team’s proposed fixes, according to the documents, because he feared they would lead people to interact less with Facebook. Facebook, in response, claims that any algorithm can promote objectionable or harmful content and that the company is doing its best to mitigate the problem. (Listen to a related podcast.)

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_04 | Facebook employees report drug cartels and human traffickers. The company’s response is weak, according to the documents.

By Justin Scheck, Newley Purnell and Jeff Horwitz

Dozens of Facebook documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal show employees are sounding the alarm bells about how its platforms are being used in developing countries, where its user base is huge and growing. Employees reported that human traffickers in the Middle East were using the site to lure women into abusive employment situations. They warned that armed groups in Ethiopia were using the site to incite violence against ethnic minorities. They sent alerts to their bosses about organ sales, pornography and government action against political dissent, the documents said. They also show the company’s response, which in many cases is inadequate or non-existent. A Facebook spokesperson said the company has deployed global teams, local partnerships and third-party fact checkers to keep users safe. (Listen to a related podcast.)

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_05 | How Facebook hampered Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt to get America vaccinated

By Sam Schechner, Jeff Horwitz and Emily Glazer

Facebook has put its weight into promoting the Covid-19 vaccines – “a top business priority,” a memo said – in a demonstration of Mr. Zuckerberg’s faith that its creation is a force for the social good in the world. It ended up showing the gulf between his aspirations and the reality of the world’s largest social platform. Activists have flooded the network with what Facebook calls “vaccine barrier” content, according to internal memos. They used Facebook’s own tools to cast doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic threat and the safety of the authorities’ primary weapon in combating it. The Covid-19 issues make it uncomfortably clear: Even when he set a goal, the CEO couldn’t run the platform the way he wanted. A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement that the data showed Americans’ vaccine reluctance on Facebook had declined by about 50% since January, and the documents showed the “routine process. of the company to face difficult challenges “.

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_06 | Facebook’s efforts to attract tweens go beyond Instagram kids, documents say

By Georgia Wells and Jeff Horwitz

Facebook has come under increasing criticism in recent days for its effect on young users. Within the company, teams of employees have been making plans for years to attract tweens who go beyond what is known to the public, spurred on by fears that she will lose a wave of critical users. for his future. “Why do we care about tweens? A 2020 document said. “They are a valuable but untapped audience.” Instagram director Adam Mosseri said Facebook isn’t recruiting people too young to use its apps – the current age limit is 13 – but instead tries to understand how teens and tweens use technology and to please the next generation. (Listen to a related podcast.)

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_07 | Facebook documents on Instagram and teens, posted

By The Wall Street Journal Staff

A Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Facebook, Teens and Mental Health was prompted by a mid-September article in the Wall Street Journal. Based on internal company documents, he detailed Facebook’s internal research into the negative impact of its Instagram app on teenage girls and others. Six of the documents that formed the basis of the Instagram post are posted here.

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_08 | Is Sheryl Sandberg’s power diminishing? Ten years of Facebook data offers clues

By Stéphanie Stamm, John West and Deepa Seetharaman

The Wall Street Journal reviewed 10 years of annual Facebook employee lists, which listed the names, titles and officers of Facebook employees and contractors. The data shows which teams executives have grown the fastest under, providing an exceptionally detailed public view of the company’s shifting power centers and priorities.

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