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Why in Frances Haugen Zuckerberg’s Met His Demise

Eleven years after The Social Network came out people still don’t get that Zuck sucks at being a human.

Haugen, who testified before Congress on Tuesday about her former employer, will be meeting with House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, CNN reported, citing three sources.

The House select committee could hear from Haugen as early as Thursday, according to the network. The lawmakers on the committee are tasked with investigating the events surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which supporters of former President Trump stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

CNN reported that the committee wants to know from Haugen how the platform was used to organize and encourage the violent protest.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) appeared to signal earlier this week that Haugen would be speaking with the committee, tweeting on Monday, “According to this Facebook whistleblower, shutting down the civic integrity team and turning off election misinformation tools contributed to the Jan 6 insurrection.“

“The Select Committee will need to hear from her, and get internal info from Facebook to flesh out their role.”

Haugen last month leaked internal documents to The Wall Street Journal that included revelations Facebook knew that the Instagram platform was harmful to its younger users, allegations Facebook did not do enough to stop the spread of false coronavirus-related rhetoric and claims the platform was not doing enough to combat drug and human trafficking being conducted on the site.

Speaking before Congress on Tuesday, Haugen blasted Facebook’s use of artificial intelligence to catch hate speech and misinformation.

“The reality is that we’ve seen from repeated documents within my disclosures, is that Facebook’s AI systems only catch a very tiny minority of offending content,” the former Facebook produce manager said.

She also claimed that issues could not be dealt with adequately because of the company being “understaffed.”

At this point does anyone believe Zuck? After The Social Dilemma, after his former friend and FB co-founder Chris Hughes, blasted his old friend and business partner Mark Zuckerberg for his refusal to fact check political ads by President Donald Trump and his comments attacking Democratic presidential contender Senator Elizabeth Warren.Hughes said in a tweet: “I have a feeling that many people in tech will see Warren’s thread implying FB empowers Trump over Warren as unfair. But Mark, by deciding to allow outright lies in political ads to travel on Facebook, is embracing the philosophy behind Trumpism and thereby tipping the scales.”

After Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff ripped  Facebook by name, for failing to address misinformation on their platforms.”

Zuckerberg’s response  was disingenuous at best and an out right lie most likely.”Many of the claims don’t make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? If we didn’t care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space — even ones larger than us?” he said.

“If we wanted to hide our results, why would we have established an industry-leading standard for transparency and reporting on what we’re doing? And if social media were as responsible for polarizing society as some people claim, then why are we seeing polarization increase in the US while it stays flat or declines in many countries with just as heavy use of social media around the world?” he further questioned.

The algorithm that dictates what skyrockets cant make value judgements and he knows it.

As far as their business? It’s FUCKING horribly run. If Facebook’s claims have any merit than why is the company unapologetic about its inability to address customer concerns to the extent that they make no excuse for not having anything even resembling customer service.

The New Yorker: On “60 Minutes,” Haugen concluded that it was time for Facebook to declare “moral bankruptcy,” which she defined as “an opportunity for Mark, for Facebook, to come in and say, ‘We completely messed up.’ ”

Of course, Zuckerberg has been saying more or less those exact words since before Facebook was Facebook. What Haugen really wanted, presumably, was for him to mean it this time, and to do something about it. In “An Ugly Truth,” a formidable feat of muckraking published in July, the co-authors Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang provide about five reasons per page to regard Facebook as the sociocultural equivalent of a fossil-fuel company. Before you even open the book, though, there are the blurbs. Zuckerberg, September, 2017: “I ask for forgiveness and I will work to do better.” Zuckerberg, April, 2018: “It was my mistake and I’m sorry.” Zuckerberg, May, 2020: “We need to do a better job.” The book’s designers were limited only by the dimensions of the cover, not by a paucity of similar quotes.

Last month, in the Times, Frenkel and her colleague Ryan Mac published an article titled “No More Apologies: Inside Facebook’s Push to Defend Its Image.” In the article, Facebook’s current communications and policy executives (that is, the ones who have chosen to stay at the company, and whom Zuckerberg has chosen to promote) come across as thin-skinned, provincial, defensive nearly to the point of self-delusion. They seem convinced that Facebook is the victim of an unfair and disproportionate amount of bad press, and that attempts to placate the public have only backfired. Instead, they settle on what is called, in a tellingly oxymoronic phrase, “a more aggressive defense.” (The notion that the criticism is mostly warranted—that the salient issue is not an overzealous regulatory state, an axe-grinding mainstream media, or an inexplicably irrational user base but that the central problem with Facebook is Facebook—does not seem to occur to them.) Frenkel and Mac report that the communications team “discussed ways for executives to be less conciliatory” and came up with “a strategy for distancing Mr. Zuckerberg from scandals, partly by focusing his Facebook posts and media appearances on new products”—a way for him to spend less time tacking into headwinds and more time posting about surveillance sunglasses. (A Facebook spokesperson told the Times that the company had not changed its approach.)

On Monday, the day after Haugen’s “60 Minutes” interview and the day before she spoke at a Senate hearing, some of Facebook’s routers failed, causing Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to crash for most of the afternoon. This was a big enough deal that Zuckerberg briefly suspended his no-apology rule. “Sorry for the disruption today,” he posted. “I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about.” Conspiracy theories abounded, but the outage seems to have been a coincidence—the kind of thing that can happen, pretty much anytime, when billions of people’s online lives depend on the infrastructure of a single company. “Monopoly systems are fragile and dangerous and besides allowing for abusive, extractive, behavior, are just a stupid way to design anything,” Zephyr Teachout, an activist and antitrust scholar, tweeted. “Break ’em up.” During the roughly six hours when its apps were unusable, Facebook’s stock price plummeted, causing Zuckerberg to lose, on paper, nearly seven billion dollars. By Monday night, though, the stock price had started to rebound, and he was back to posting about non sequiturs—in this case, one of the nonprofits funded by his philanthropy.

The next day, Zuckerberg wrote an aggressively defensive memo to his employees, then shared it on his Facebook page. The no-apology rule was back in effect. “I’m sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to read because it just doesn’t reflect the company we know,” he wrote. “The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. . . . The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction.” This has been his line for years, but his tone has recently grown more defiant, even desperate. In one sense, this was discouraging—just about the opposite of the road-to-Damascus moment that Haugen was envisioning on “60 Minutes.” In another sense, it was bracing, like the moment in a ferocious argument when your antagonist finally drops his layers of pretense and admits how he really feels. As usual, Zuckerberg padded his rationale with some carefully selected statistics, but his heart didn’t seem to be in it. “When I reflect on our work, I think about the real impact we have on the world—the people who can now stay in touch with their loved ones, create opportunities to support themselves, and find community,” he concluded. “I’m proud of everything we do to keep building the best social products in the world.” That has always been his bottom line; he hardly seems to care, these days, how many rhetorical contortions it takes him to get there. (“We have absolutely no commercial incentive, no moral incentive, no company-wide incentive to do anything other than to try to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on Facebook, and that is what we do day in and day out,” Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, told me.)

In her review of “An Ugly Truth,” my colleague Jill Lepore compared Facebook to a church. In any kind of church—not to mention a multilevel-marketing scheme, or a doomsday cult—there are true believers. If you start to get the creeping feeling that your church’s core ideology is indefensible, you have two options. You can do whatever it takes to defend the indefensible, or you can leave. For most true believers, though, the latter option—choosing apostasy, which is a kind of self-exile,—is not really an option at all. If this is the dilemma that binds a follower, how much more strongly does it bind the church’s founding pastor, or its prophet?

For years, people have tried to appeal to Mark Zuckerberg’s better judgment, but he was never going to become an apostate. Facebook isn’t just his job; it’s his identity. It’s standard, at moments like this, to quote Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” This is a perceptive line, but William Jennings Bryan, forty years prior, put it even more aptly: “It is useless to argue with a man whose opinion is based upon a personal or pecuniary interest; the only way to deal with him is to outvote him.” Sinclair was a muckraker; Bryan was a populist. Journalism can diagnose Facebook’s many flaws, but journalism alone can’t fix them. There are no silver-bullet solutions to the civilizational threats posed by the social-media behemoths. At least, if there are, I don’t claim to know them. But I do know what Bryan would have done, for a start: break ’em up.

 

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