A extremely detailed investigation by The New York Instances has once more raised questions on Fb’s response to points akin to Russian manipulation, pretend information, and hate speech which have turn into rampant on its platform. In the present day, the corporate issued a rebuttal of types that tackle some points raised by the story.
Within the unsigned rebuttal, the corporate says: “There are a selection of inaccuracies within the story.” Fb additionally confirmed it has lower ties with Definers Public Affairs, a conservative group that the Instances story says was actively selling destructive tales about rivals to attract consideration away from Fb.
The rebuttal additionally restates Fb’s message that it acknowledges the problems, is working exhausting to repair them, and guarantees to do extra.
“We’ve acknowledged publicly on many events – together with earlier than Congress – that we have been too gradual to identify Russian interference on Fb, in addition to different misuse,” the Fb assertion reads. “However within the two years for the reason that 2016 Presidential election, we’ve invested closely in additional folks and higher expertise to enhance security and safety on our providers. Whereas we nonetheless have a protracted approach to go, we’re pleased with the progress we now have made in preventing misinformation, eradicating dangerous content material and stopping international actors from manipulating our platform.”
Nonetheless, the rebuttal itself misrepresents lots of the factors made within the Instances’ story.
As an example, relating to Russian manipulation, Fb says: “The story asserts that we knew about Russian exercise as early because the spring of 2016 however have been gradual to research it at each flip. This isn’t true.”
Truly, what the Instances’ story says is that safety chief Alex Stamos was alerted to the problem within the spring of 2016, and commenced investigating and informing folks above him of the problem. However he was shocked later that yr when he heard CEO Mark Zuckberberg claiming in public that allegations of Russian interference have been foolish. The story additionally notes that COO Sheryl Sandberg was livid with Stamos for revealing an excessive amount of info to board members, and that the corporate continued to attenuate the problem in public for a number of extra months.
The rebuttal additionally addresses the problem of a racist publish written by candidate Donald Trump in 2015 about Muslims and an inner debate about whether or not to take away it. “To counsel that the inner debate round this explicit case was totally different from different vital free speech points on Fb is flawed,” Fb says.
The Instances story claims Zuckerberg took the bizarre step of personally asking whether or not the publish violated the businesses phrases of providers. However the true upshot of the anecdote was that Sandberg and Zuckerberg largely delegated the controversy about whether or not or to not take down the publish to certainly one of its lobbyists and communications chief who in the end determined to go away it in place, partly out fears that taking it down may provoke conservatives.
In any other case, the rebuttal takes points with how the Instances’ story characterised Fb’s assist for a intercourse trafficking invoice, its efforts to struggle pretend information, or an incident the place the Definers allegedly satisfied a Jewish affiliation to sentence a protest group for utilizing an indication that could possibly be construed as anti-Semitic.
“Definers did encourage members of the press to look into the funding of ‘Freedom from Fb,’ an anti-Fb group,” the rebuttal says. “The intention was to show that it was not merely a spontaneous grassroots marketing campaign, because it claimed, however supported by a well known critic of our firm. To counsel that this was an anti-Semitic assault is reprehensible and unfaithful.”
The Instances story doesn’t counsel Fb’s efforts have been anti-Semitic, slightly that the corporate through the Definers have been making an attempt to make use of fees of anti-Semitism to discredit prostestors.
Past that, the rebuttal doesn’t actually appear to do a lot to undermine the general thrust of the Instances’ reporting. It appears supposed to chip a few holes in it. So it appears unlikely it is going to diffuse the most recent firestorm engulfing Fb which has despatched its inventory plunging from $209.94 per share final July to $144.22 yesterday.