The case for deleting our Facebook accounts (that means Instagram, too) seems to grow stronger with each passing day.
Increasingly, what may seem and feel like an organic social experience for users has — over several years — proven to be a carefully coordinated experiment for Facebook executives, with worrying and sometimes harmful results.
A New York Times report Tuesday detailed a creepy internal Facebook initiative code-named Project Amplify, in which the company planned to pump favorable articles about itself to users through its News Feed and advertisements. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly signed off on the initiative in August.
The Times reported that Facebook executives have made a concerted effort to distance Zuckerberg from scandals involving the company by having him talk almost exclusively about new products. This strategy was put to the test back in January, when Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg — not Zuckerberg — told Reuters the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was “largely” not organized on Facebook. (Spoiler alert: It was.)
A Facebook spokesperson denied that the company had changed its approach on the matter, reported the Times.
Facebook has been under especially intense scrutiny over the past week following a series of unflattering Wall Street Journal reports that alleged the company was aware of its harmful psychological impact on teenage girls, responded weakly to drug cartels and human traffickers using its platforms and failed to take action when its high-profile users posted violent and conspiratorial content.
Last month, Facebook executives drew backlash for shelving a report that detailed the site's top posts during the first three months of 2021. Among the site's most popular pages during that time period, according to The New York Times' report, was The Epoch Times — a known source of right-wing disinformation.
(Facebook has confirmed details in some of these reports — withholding the top sites report, for example — but pushed back on others. A Facebook spokesperson defended the site's efforts to weed out human traffickers, sayin the company prohibits human exploitation "in no uncertain terms.")
All of this is in addition to Facebook's problematic history with political propaganda. Roughly one-third of Americans received Russian-backed content on Facebook during the 2016 election cycle, the company reported in 2017.
Now is as good a time as any to leave your Facebook accounts by the wayside. The company’s executives are seemingly well aware of the site’s harmful impacts on society — they’re just hoping a few ads and pro-Facebook fluff pieces will distract you.
Head over to The ReidOut Blog for more.