Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly responded to claims that the social media giant puts profit before safety and well-being.
“We care deeply about issues like safety, wellbeing, and mental health. It’s difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don’t recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted,” Zuckerberg wrote in a note to Facebook employees that he posted publicly on his Facebook page.
“The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical,” he continued.
The response came after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appeared before the U.S. Senate as part of its inquiry into Facebook’s operations, calling the company “morally bankrupt” and “the choices being made inside of Facebook” as “disastrous for our children, our privacy and our democracy.”
Haugen, a former lead product manager for Facebook’s civic misinformation team, told the Senate that Facebook “is choosing to grow at all costs” — which means that profits are being “bought with our safety. “Therefore encouraging “more division, more harm, more lies, more threats, [and] more combat” online.
Haugen also said that Zuckerberg has built an organization that is very metrics-driven — the metrics make the decision,” so the buck stops with him.
The allegations stem from the Facebook Files, a series of investigations published by the Wall Street Journal based on internal files, draft presentations, research and internal communications of employees leaked by the whistleblower.
The Wall Street Journal published six of the internal documents that formed the basis of its investigation, and Facebook then published two of them with notes last week.
Zuckerberg said many of the claims “don’t make any sense.”
He also addressed claims that raised questions about Facebook’s impact on children’s safety and well-being.
Haugen told Senate members that “Facebook knows that its amplification algorithms can lead children from innocuous topics — such as healthy food recipes — to anorexia-promoting content over a short period of time.”
“When it comes to young people’s health or wellbeing, every negative experience matters … We have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these moments and I’m proud of the work we’ve done. We constantly use our research to improve this work further,” Zuckerberg said.