Facebook (FB) is going on the offensive ahead of what the company expects to be a series of news articles based on thousands of pages of leaked Facebook documents.
The social media giant came out swinging via its Facebook Newsroom Twitter (TWTR) account through which VP of communications John Pinette claimed “30+ journalists are finishing up a coordinated series of articles based on thousands of pages of leaked documents. We hear that to get the docs, outlets had to agree to the conditions and a schedule laid down by the PR team that worked on earlier leaked docs.”
It’s worth pointing out that Facebook itself, as well as other technology companies, regularly use embargos that require the media to agree not to publish articles before a specified time.
This series of articles will be the second wave of negative press against Facebook. Earlier this month former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testified before Congress about documents she leaked to both the The Wall Street Journal and “60 Minutes” that show Facebook knows about problems with the service, including its inability to deal with hate speech and human trafficking, as well as its impact on the mental health of teenage girls.
Right now 30+ journalists are finishing up a coordinated series of articles based on thousands of pages of leaked documents. We hear that to get the docs, outlets had to agree to the conditions and a schedule laid down by the PR team that worked on earlier leaked docs.
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) October 18, 2021
The news also comes a day after Facebook VP of integrity Guy Rosen published a blog post refuting claims that Facebook doesn’t ferret out hate speech. In the post, Rosen says that prevalence of such content on Facebook has dropped by almost 50% in the last three quarters.
However, documents produced by Haugen say that Facebook can only take action against 3% to 5% of hate on the platform and less than 1% of violence and incitement despite being the best platform in the world at doing so.
On Twitter, Pinette suggested the leaked documents paint an unfair portrait of the networking giant. “A curated selection out of millions of documents at Facebook can in no way be used to draw fair conclusions about us. Internally, we share work in progress and debate options,” he wrote. “Not every suggestion stands up to the scrutiny we must apply to decisions affecting so many people.”
Haugen, meanwhile, is set to testify before the British Parliament on Oct. 25 regarding the information she provided to Congress. Sophie Zhang, a second whistleblower, testified before parliament on Oct. 18, and has said she wants to testify before Congress, as well.
Facebook has repeatedly claimed that the information in the leaked documents is merely meant for internal use and doesn’t point to any specific shortcomings. But lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic are using the data to craft legislation to deal with what they see as Facebook’s myriad trust issues.
The social network’s position on the leaks has run counter to prior controversies during which CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the lead on crafting a response. This time around, Facebook’s executive team is doing the heavy lifting and aggressively asserting its own point of view.
This lines up with a September New York Times report that the company will be more assertive in defending its interests.
Facebook is also currently staring down an antitrust suit filed by the Federal Trade Commission that seeks to split the company up. The suit, which was refiled by the FTC after initially being dismissed, accuses Facebook of operating a buy or bury campaign to either scoop up or crush smaller competitors.
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