On Wednesday, the social media giant, Facebook defended itself against research that Facebook was dividing users rather than bringing them together. Facebook’s algorithms are designed at getting people to spend extra time on the platform. However, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Facebook research team stated in a 2018 presentation that these algorithms are responsible for exploiting the brain’s attraction towards divisiveness. The research team warned that if left unchecked, the social media platform will feed people ‘more and more divisive content while trying to gain their attention and increasing time spent on Facebook’s platform.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook as well as other executives of the company sidelined the research. Guy Rosen, Facebook’s integrity VP, slammed the Journal report stating that the newspaper deliberately neglected critical facts that crippled its narrative.
Rosen stated in a post that the report uses isolated initiatives the company decided against as evidence that Facebook does not care about the bottom issues, and the report ignored the symbolic efforts Facebook did make. Mark Zuckerberg stated that the management of Facebook acknowledges that Facebook as well as other social platforms can indeed drive divisiveness, however, the benefits it provides can outweigh these issues.
This left an impression on people that Facebook is neglecting an issue that in fact Facebook has invested exclusively in. The report also cited a study performed by Facebook during 2016 which states that Facebook’s suggestion tools are responsible for 64% of all extremist group joins.
The company has faced criticism for many years for letting the hate to flourish across the network. While Rosen did not contradict the study but mentioned the initiatives Facebook has made since the year 2016 to combat misleading information, threats, and other abusive behavior.
CEO Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg also defended Facebook’s speech policies a day after the Wall Street Journal published the report. The report also stated that Facebook’s tools are adding to political polarization.
Zuckerberg was questioned about allegations of censorship on the social network during the company’s annual shareholder conference on Wednesday. He stated that giving voice to the masses is very beneficial even if it results in long periods of civil unrest. Zuckerberg while explaining his point stated that there is enough history that would recommend that giving individuals more voice results in them being very productive and beneficial for the society even if it contributes to more tension in the near term.
Facebook has also claimed for years that the platform contributes to ‘filter bubbles.’ Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook, stated back in the year 2019 that the individuals who spend more time on social platforms view more broad perspectives.