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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Facebook Papers – Algorithms have consciously promoted “some of the worst” content over the years

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Facebook’s algorithms were consciously and systematically promoting “some of the worst” and most controversial content. It was supposed to happen over many years – reports the American newspaper “Washington Post”. The newspaper cites internal documents of the company known as “Facebook Papers”.

According to the newspaper, one of the sources of the problems was Facebook introducing new ways of responding to displayed posts in 2017: emoji icons were added to the usual “likes” to express emotions ranging from anger to laughter. When deciding which content should be promoted, Facebook’s mechanisms “priced” emojis at five points, while “likes” only rated one.

“This could inadvertently open the way to more spam / abuse / clickbait,” reported one of the company’s employees, suggesting that in this way Facebook could contribute to an increase in polarization. Another replied that it was “possible”, although he assured that Facebook was working to reduce these effects.

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Facebook algorithms

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As it turned out, these actions did not bring the expected results. A 2019 internal Facebook survey found that posts with the most angry emojis were far more likely to contain misinformation and low-quality information.

“This means Facebook has been systematically promoting some of the worst content on its platform for three years, making it more visible to users and spreading it to a much wider audience,” writes the Washington Post.

Facebook employee in the British Parliament

Same on Monday former Facebook employee Frances Haugen said in the British parliament, which took tens of thousands of internal documents from the company, handing them over to 17 American media.

“Anger and hatred is the easiest way to grow on Facebook,” Haugen said.

The documents provided by the whistleblower served as the basis for a series of articles suggesting that Facebook was aware of the harmful effects of its platform – including in inciting hatred, radicalization, and psychological harm to children – but he did not want to or could not adequately deal with it.

Facebook boss comment

On Monday, these publications were condemned by the head of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg during the presentation of the quarterly report on the company’s financial results.

“Good faith criticism helps us to improve, but in my opinion what we are seeing now is a coordinated effort to selectively use documents to paint a false picture of our company,” he said.

Despite the massive wave of criticism from the portal in recent weeks, Facebook’s results for the third quarter of 2021 showed that it did not affect the company’s profits. The company recorded $ 29 billion in revenues – 35 percent. more than in the same quarter of 2020 – and a profit of 9.2 billion (an increase of 17%).

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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