“The same rules apply to everyone on Facebook” was the mantra that company boss Mark Zuckerberg has repeated for years when it comes to explaining what posts are allowed on the platform and which are not. Information from a whistleblower who turned to the Wall Street Journal now shows that the truth is far from it. As a result, there are millions of accounts on the platform that can break house rules (e.g. against hate or nudity) without having to fear consequences such as blocking content or even deleting the account. .
Notable example: After rape allegations against him, footballer Neymar posted a live stream on Instagram in 2019, in which the real name and nude photos of the woman who accused him could be seen: According to the rules of Facebook, a case of revenge pornography that would lead to the immediate permanent deletion of an account by normal users. Neymar’s revenge video, on the other hand, was allowed to stay on the platform for 24 hours until a decision was made in the executive suite to remove it. The footballer’s account remained intact.
Special treatment for Facebook VIPs
But not only stars with an audience of millions have landed on this white list of untouchables, according to the report, but also other celebrities, athletes, scientists and politicians. The list is believed to be from a Facebook program called “Cross Check,” which the BBC talked about in 2018. The program was introduced to verify certain accounts a second time before removing potentially unauthorized content. This can be useful when it comes to satirical contributions. According to Facebook, it was also to recheck sensitive cases, for example when activists report violence or journalists post from war zones. But it doesn’t appear that activists and journalists have landed on the cross-checklist. More recently, more than five million accounts have been included.
However, because it has taken too long to verify the posts that are complained of, Facebook has started to no longer enforce its house rules for many accounts, writes the WSJ. Facebook was well aware that such an approach can cause enormous damage. The company even recorded how often content that should have been removed is viewed 16 billion times in 2020 alone.
The revelation is part of the WSJ’s so-called “Facebook files”, in which the newspaper reports a number of leaked Facebook documents. Facebook does not explicitly deny the newspaper’s revelations. A spokesperson nevertheless criticized the publications of the SZ: Many documents lack context, some dating back several years.
The documents show: The company employs a large number of researchers who are carefully examining the platform and its implications for society. But if the information obtained through them is distasteful to Facebook, it is apparently kept under lock and key.
Instagram harms young girls’ psyche
Internal studies by Facebook researchers seem to show quite clearly that Instagram can cause psychological harm to young girls. According to researchers, around a third of girls who are already dissatisfied with their bodies feel worse after spending time on Instagram. Facebook boss Zuckerberg has always said publicly that there is no evidence that Instagram can have any negative consequences for teens.
A third case involves a change in Facebook’s algorithm that Zuckerberg announced in 2018. Instead of focusing on the news, so-called “meaningful social interactions” should be rewarded in the news feed in the future. . But Facebook’s research quickly showed that the focus on likes, shares, and comments resulted in more angry content being shared. Even political parties have phrased their posts more negatively, but have expressed concern to Facebook that they will harm society in the long run. Facebook boss Zuckerberg nevertheless refused to withdraw the change.