Wall Street doesn’t care about the Facebook leaks. Mark Zuckerberg does. – .

Wall Street doesn’t care about the Facebook leaks. Mark Zuckerberg does. – .

Facebook’s market value is doing very well. But a recent deluge of damning reports on Facebook first appeared in the Wall Street Journal -om the impact of the company’s products on the mental health of users, to how they have contributed to political polarization in the preparation of January 6 riots on Capitol Hill – is clearly frustrating CEO Mark. Zuckerberg.

During the company’s quarterly earnings call on Monday, Zuckerberg approached the scrutiny and criticism directed at Facebook with a particularly defiant tone that differed from its generally balanced public demeanor.

“Good faith reviews help us improve. But my take is that what we’re seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false image of our business, ”Zuckerberg said. “The reality is that we have an open culture, where we encourage discussion and research into our work so that we can move forward on many complex issues that are not specific to us. “

It is important to note that Facebook is doing well financially. The company reported mostly solid quarterly earnings on Monday, although this is the first report after Apple introduced privacy changes in April that could have seriously limited Facebook’s advertising activity. And despite all the reports of the potential social harms of its products, Facebook’s stock prices are on the rise. So the fact that Zuckerberg spent the first few minutes of his 10-minute introductory remarks on the call to uphold his company’s moral integrity shows how much these reports seem to have made him worse.

Zuckerberg’s comments also raise questions about how he views the role of the press in reporting his company to the public.

The “coordinated effort” to “selectively use” leaked internal Facebook documents that Zuckerberg mentioned apparently refers to the existence of a reporting consortium of more than 17 newsrooms, including the Associated Press, the Atlantic and the New York Times, which began publishing articles. at the end of last week. The consortium was created to share thousands of leaked files by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen (Recode joined the consortium on Monday). The original consortium set a mutually agreed upon time for the publication of their stories, in what is called an “embargo” – a common media practice that Facebook PR itself regularly uses for product rollouts and other press announcements. Facebook previously posted a public statement attacking the declaring consortium before the articles are released.

During Monday’s earnings call, Zuckerberg said he “can’t change the underlying media dynamics,” and instead would double down on efforts to keep creating new products for users. from Facebook.

On several occasions, it has called Facebook an “industry leader” in reducing harmful content on its platforms. He also highlighted the company’s existing methods of sharing snapshots of its internal workings with the public, such as its self-organized transparency reports, advertising archives, Supervisory Board, and programs for sharing internal data. selected with external researchers who study things like polarization policy and health disinformation on the platform.

“We believe that our systems are the most effective in reducing harmful content through the [social media] industry. And I think any honest account of how we’ve handled these issues should include that, ”Zuckerberg said.

What he did not mention is how many of these transparency mechanisms have been criticized for their inadequacy by respected outside authorities. Even Facebook its own supervisory board accused the company retention of key information; in April, the board said that Facebook “Was not entirely to come” by “failing to provide relevant and complete information on certain occasions”, and demanded more transparency from the company. And academics have long complained that Facebook is too slow and limited in the data it shares for external studies, which can make Facebook’s academic partnerships ineffective for urgent research on urgent topics like social media posts. social services on Covid-19.

Zuckerberg is right when he says Facebook has fostered an open culture for its world-class in-house researchers to analyze the company’s most complex problems. What he seems upset now is that Haugen has shared these findings with the public. While this didn’t seem to worry investors, analysts, and shareholders as much – because Facebook is still a hugely profitable business – Zuckerberg’s comments on Monday’s earnings suggest how the company has rocked the leaks. Facebook’s finances may still be squarely under Zuckerberg’s control, but his moral position is no longer.


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