Zuckerberg responds to whistle blower claims about Facebook prioritising profits

Oct 6, 2021: A day after the massive global shutdown of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, social media giant Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg issued a note to “Everyone at the company”.

Reacting to Zuckerberg’s accusations by U.S. lawmakers concerns that they are pushing for higher profits over consumer safety, the CEO began his note by saying that Saturday has been important so far.

Zuckerberg was of the view that at the heart of these accusations is the idea that the company prioritise profit over safety and well-being.

The CEO shared his thoughts saying, “First, the SEV that took down all our services on Monday was the worst outage we have had in years,” he said, adding that they spent 24 hours debriefing how the company can strengthen their systems against this kind of failure.

According to Zuckerberg: “The deeper concern with an outage like this is not how many people switch to competitive services or how much money we lose, but what it means for the people who rely on our services to communicate with loved ones, run their businesses, or support their communities.”

Addressing the concerns stakeholders have about Facebook’s focus on profits more than consumer data safety, he said, “I am sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to read because it just doesn’t reflect the company we know. We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health, it is difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives,”

“at the most basic level, I think most of us just don’t recognise the false picture of the company that is being painted.” He added.

Talking about whistle blower complaints made by a former Facebook employee,  he asserted that many of the claims “don’t make any sense.”

Defending Facebook’s research practices and algorithms he said,

“If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research programme to understand these important issues in the first place? If we didn’t care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space — even ones larger than us?”

“If we wanted to hide our results, why would we have established an industry-leading standard for transparency and reporting on what we are doing? And if social media were as responsible for polarising society as some people claim, then why are we seeing polarisation increase in the US while it stays flat or declines in many countries with just as heavy use of social media around the world?”

On the subject of the social media giant’s profit making mechanism, Zuckerberg said that the argument that they deliberately push content that promotes hate speech for profit is “deeply illogical”. He is referring to complaints that Facebook is partly to blame for the US  Capitol riots in January this year.

Talking about the revenue generation model he said, “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.”

He also talked about how Facebook was a safe place for kids saying, “I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the kinds of experiences I want my kids and others to have online, and it is important to me that everything we build is safe and good for kids,” he maintained.

He reiterated his assertion that claims about Facebook favouring profits over consumer interest is “simply not true”

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