Business

Whistleblower says a Facebook study found only up to 5% of hate on the platform is addressed

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Facebook logo is seen displayed on a phone screen in photo taken in Poland on November 29, 2020.

Documents copied by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said the company only addressed 3-5% of hate on the platform despite being “the best” at addressing it, CBS’s “60 Minutes” reported.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal released the Facebook Files series with the help of an anonymous whistleblower. The reports said Facebook’s researchers and leaders were aware of the damage their platform was causing but were not being public or proactive about addressing them.

The company’s internal research allegedly found that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, makes suicidal thoughts and eating disorders worse in teenage girls.

On Sunday, Frances Haugen, a former product manager, revealed she became a whistleblower because she was frustrated by how the company handled potential harmful content.

Haugen copied thousands of pages of internal documents and took them with her before she quit in May. The Washington Post reported that Haugen has filed at least eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission and shared the documents with federal authorities.

One of those documents reviewed by CBS were from a study this year that said “we estimate that we may action as little as 3-5% of hate and about 6-tenths of 1% of V & I [violence and incitement] on Facebook despite being the best in the world at it.”

In an interview with CBS’s Scott Pelley, Haugen said the company prioritizes its own interests over the public good.

“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” Haugen said.

Haugen, who has also worked for companies like Google and Pinterest, said the impact of Facebook was “substantially worse” than “anything I’d seen before.”

The whistleblower said the documents she copied are evidence that Facebook is lying about the progress it’s making in addressing hate, violence, and misinformation on its platform.

Lena Pietsch, Facebook’s Director of Policy Communications told Insider the allegation that Facebook wasn’t doing enough to counter harmful content on the platform was false.

“We’ve invested heavily in people and technology to keep our platform safe, and have made fighting misinformation and providing authoritative information a priority,” Pietsch said. “If any research had identified an exact solution to these complex challenges, the tech industry, governments, and society would have solved them a long time ago. We have a strong track record of using our research – as well as external research and close collaboration with experts and organizations – to inform changes to our apps.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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