Facebook whistleblower says company incentivizes “angry, polarizing, divisive content”

Frances Haugen spent 15 years working for some of the largest social media companies in the world including Google, Pinterest, and until May, Facebook. Haugen quit Facebook on her own accord and left with thousands of pages of internal research and communications that she shared with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 60 Minutes obtained the documents from a Congressional source. On Sunday, in her first interview, Haugen told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley about what she called “systemic” problems with the platform’s ranking algorithm that led to the amplification of “angry content” and divisiveness. Evidence of that, she said, is in the company’s own internal research. Haugen said Facebook changed its algorithm in 2018 to promote “what it calls meaningful social interactions” through “engagement-based rankings.” She explained that content that gets engaged with – such as reactions, comments, and shares – gets wider distribution. “Political parties have been quoted, in Facebook’s own research, saying, we know you changed how you pick out the content that goes in the home feed,” said Haugen. “And now if we don’t publish angry, hateful, polarizing, divisive content, crickets.” “We have no independent transparency mechanisms,” Haugen [said]. “Facebook … picks metrics that are in its own benefit. And the consequence is they can say we get 94% of hate speech and then their internal documents say we get 3% to 5% of hate speech. We can’t govern that.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation from reliable sources.

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