A series of leaked internal documents, known as Facebook Papers, reveal some of the main problems Facebook has been facing over the past 3 years. But it seems that, this time, Zuckerberg’s network is more fragile: 45% of young people must flee the platform by 2023, and there is difficulty to moderate misinformation in emerging countries. The icing on the cake is Apple threatening to remove Instagram and Facebook from the App Store because the social network was being used to recruit, select and traffic human beings.
Facebook faces its biggest scandal since the Cambridge Analytica episode, which accessed data from 80 million users without permission.
Following the testimony of former Facebook product manager Francis Haugen, who told the US Congress that the company prioritizes profit over “welfare,” Mark Zuckerberg’s social network now faces the leak of very revealing internal documents.
After human trafficking, Facebook came under pressure from Apple
For starters, Facebook was used in the Middle East to buy and sell human beings. The social network was already aware of the problem of human trafficking in the region before 2018, but the issue escalated in 2019. “[Nossa] platform allows all three stages of human exploration (recruitment, facilitation and exploration) through complex networks of real-life contacts”, reveals the internal document.
With that in mind, 2 years ago Apple threatened to ban the Facebook and Instagram app from the App Store. Only after pressure from Cupertino, Zuckerberg’s company decided to set up a task force to monitor people’s buying and selling networks.
“Removing our apps from Apple’s platforms would have serious business consequences, including depriving millions of users of IG & FB access,” points out the document obtained by CNN. “To mitigate this risk, we formed a large working group that operated 24 hours a day to create a response strategy.”
In addition, Facebook has difficulty controlling misinformation in non-English speaking countries. After being accused of facilitating the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, the social network pledged to hire more local people to monitor fake news.
But a 2021 document reveals that Facebook simply hasn’t hired enough to stop deceptive content in Arabic-speaking countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Libya. There are also difficulties in moderating hate speech in India, one of the biggest markets for the platform in the world.
Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s Civic Integrity leader, wrote in an internal memo in 2019:
“The harsh reality is that we just can’t cover the entire world with the same level of monitoring.”
One of the ways that Facebook found to try to solve the lack of moderation was the use of artificial intelligence.
Since 2019, the company has boasted that the autonomous tools are capable of identifying misinformation and hate speech within the social network, and has even dismissed human moderators to prioritize its AI. Again, documents report that this is not working.
According to a group of researchers, Facebook only takes action — whether it’s deleting, banning the post or the author — in just 3% to 5% of hate speech posts. This number is even lower when it comes to posts that contain violence: 0.6%.
Another document points out that this percentage should not go from 10% to 20%, because it is “extremely challenging” for the Facebook AI to understand the context in which the language is used in the post.
Young people and teenagers are leaving Facebook
Finally, Facebook Papers reveals that young people are moving away from Facebook and moving to other networks. And Zuckerberg’s platform doesn’t know how to draw them back.
Data from a researcher give the dimensions of the exodus: in the US, the rate of teenage users on Facebook has fallen by 13% since 2019. In the next 2 years, 45% of young people are expected to leave the network completely, according to documents revealed by the The Verge. Francis Haugen told Congress that the company knew of the harmful effects of Instagram on the mental health of teenage girls, but did nothing about it.
With information: ArsTechnica, Cnet and Mashable