The market value of Facebook is OK. But a recent scandalous report about Facebook, first published in the Wall Street Journal – about how the company’s products affect the mental health of users and how it contributed to the political polarization of the January 6 capital riots – is clearly frustrating for CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In a Monday quarterly earnings call for the company, Zuckerberg hit out at a remarkably hateful tone, addressing investigations and criticism conducted on Facebook that differed from his usual equal-killed public behavior.
“Criticism of good faith helps us to be good. But my view is that what we are seeing is a concerted effort to selectively use the leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company, ”Zuckerberg said. “The reality is that we have an open culture, where we can encourage discussion and research about our work so that we can make progress on many complex issues that are not just specific to us.”
It is important to note that Facebook is performing well financially. The company reported most strong quarterly earnings on Monday, although this is the first report since Apple introduced privacy changes in April that could severely limit Facebook’s advertising business. And despite all the reports about the potential social harm to its products, Facebook’s share price is rising. So the fact that Zuckerberg spent the first few minutes of his 10-minute introductory remarks on the call to defend his company’s moral integrity speaks volumes about how excited these reports seem to have been to him.
Zuckerberg’s comments also raise questions about how he sees the role of the press in reporting his company to the public.
A “concerted effort” to “selectively use” has leaked internal Facebook documents that Zuckerberg mentioned, apparently referring to the existence of a reporting consortium of more than 17 newsrooms, including the Associated Press, the Atlantic and the New York Times, which began publishing articles. Towards the end of last week. The consortium was set up to share thousands of files leaked by Frances Hausen, a former Facebook employee (Ricode joined the consortium on Monday). The initial consortium set a mutually agreed timeline for publishing their stories, called “bans” – a common media practice that Facebook PR itself regularly uses for product rollouts and other press announcements. Facebook has published one before Public statement reporting consortium attack Before the articles came out.
In Monday’s earnings call, Zuckerberg said he “can’t change the underlying media dynamic” and instead he will double down on continuing to create new products for Facebook users.
Repeatedly, he has called Facebook an “industry leader” for reducing harmful content on its platform. He also pointed to existing practices that require the company to share snapshots of its internal work with the public, such as its self-curated transparency reports, ad archives, oversight boards and selected internal data sharing programs with outside researchers that study political issues. Misinformation about polarization and health on the platform.
“We believe that our systems are the most effective in reducing harmful content everywhere [social media] The industry and I think it should be included in any honest account of how we have handled these issues, ”Zuckerberg said.
What he did not mention is how many of these processes of transparency have been criticized for being inadequate by reputable outside authorities. Even Facebook The board has accused the company of its own oversight Retaining original information; The board said last April, Facebook “Not quite forthcoming,” “Some events failed to provide relevant and complete information” and demanded more transparency from the company. And academics have long complained that the data that Facebook shares for external studies is too slow and limited, which could invalidate Facebook’s academic partnership for time-sensitive research on stressful topics such as social media posts about Covid-19.
Zuckerberg has a point when he says that Facebook has developed an open culture for its internal, world-class researchers to analyze the company’s most complex problems. What he now seems to be upset about is that Haugen has shared those results with the public. While it doesn’t seem so worrying to investors, analysts and shareholders – since Facebook is still a massively lucrative business – Zuckerberg’s comments in Monday’s earnings call indicate how much these leaks have pushed the company. Facebook’s financial situation may still be under Zuckerberg’s control, but its moral position is no more.