Mark Zuckerberg posted a staunch defense of his company in a note to employees, saying that recent claims by an ex-employee about the social network’s effects on society “don’t make any sense.”
On Tuesday, a former Facebook product manager named Frances Haugen testified before Congress about a trove of internal documents she gave to The Wall Street Journal. The focus of the hearing was on Facebook’s internal research that showed Instagram can have a negative effect on young people, but Haugen took the opportunity to also attack the company’s business model and News Feed algorithm. One of her main arguments was that Facebook’s business of selling ads based on engagement leads it to keep users on the service at all costs, even when it knows that the content they’re engaging with is harmful.
“I’m sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to read because it just doesn’t reflect the company we know,” Zuckerberg said in the memo, which he also posted on his public Facebook page. “We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It’s difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don’t recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted.”
Zuckerberg has been noticeably silent on Haugen and the internal documents she gave to The Wall Street Journal until now. Sunday, the same day she revealed her identity on 60 Minutes, he posted a video of him sailing, which lawmakers later pointed to as evidence that he was avoiding scrutiny.
“The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical,” Zuckerberg continued in his note to employees. “We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don’t want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don’t know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction.”
This story is developing…