Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Sir John Dalberg-Acton said back in a time long before Facebook existed, and yet the saying still rings true.
Dubbed the Facebook Papers, they detail internal memos and research at Facebook claiming that the social media giant is not only aware of the hate it’s platform perpetuates but also has taken active decisions to not stamp it out.
Facebook’s earnings release overnight was overshadowed by the massive controversy, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressing the allegations.
On an earnings call following the release of its results Zuckerberg said: “I believe large organisations should be scrutinised, so I’d much rather live in a society where they are than one where they can’t be.”
“Good faith criticism helps us get better but my view is that what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company.”
Here are six of the biggest revelations from the documents laid bare.
1. The company is facing a massive internal struggle
But, instead of the company heeding it’s staff calls it instead led to internal dissent.
Following one incident where former US President Donald Trump suggested protestors should be shot on the platform, one staffer complained.
“I have seen many colleagues that are extremely frustrated and angry, while at the same time, feeling powerless and (disheartened) about the current situation,” wrote the employee, whose name was redacted.
“My view is, if you want to fix Facebook, do it within.”
2. Facebook is losing popularity
Facebook’s internal research found that the platform is bombing in popularity when it comes to teens and young adults.
The documents showed that US teens were spending about 16 per cent less time on Facebook, while new signups were also falling.
This was something that Zuckerberg also addressed on his earnings call, noting that competition from TikTok and Apple has been heating up.
“...during this period competition has also gotten a lot more intense, especially with Apple’s iMessage growing in popularity and, more recently, the rise of TikTok, which is one of the most effective competitors we ever faced,” he said.
3. Facebook has been used to incite ethnic violence
In probably one of the most controversial accusations, Haugen testified in a US Senate hearing in early October that documents reveal Facebook’s “destructive impact” on society.
“My fear is that without action, divisive and extremist behaviors we see today are only the beginning,” Haugen said.
“What we saw in Myanmar and are seeing in Ethiopia are only the opening chapters of a story so terrifying, no one wants to read the end of it.”
4. Facebook’s refusal to change is due to profit chasing
“The dangers of engagement-based ranking are that Facebook knows that content that elicits an extreme reaction from you is more likely to get a click, a comment, or a reshare,” Haugen said.
“And it’s interesting because those clicks and comments and reshares aren’t necessarily for your benefit.”
5. Zuckerberg misled the public
Internal documents seen by the Post claim that the social network had removed less than 5 per cent of hate speech from the site.
On top of this, they claimed that executives, including Zuckerberg, were well aware that Facebook was polarising people.
These claims have already been denied by Facebook, which said the Post has misrepresented the documents.
6. Facebook has different standards for different countries
While it makes sense that as different countries have different laws, there would be some differences in how the platform can run.
Things like artificial intelligence tools that can detect hate speech and misinformation, and extra staff to deal with potential problems more quickly, were not made available to those nations according to .