Facebook failed the people who tried to improve it

But this picture contradicts the departure of people who say they have blood on their hands.

I spoke last week with a former researcher whose badge post I didn’t see on Facebook Papers. She told me that she would be in a room and provide examples of users she spoke to, victims of hate speech or harassment. “And there are no women at these product meetings,” she says. “As researchers in the field of privacy and security, we would present these stories, which were quite shocking, such as’ Here is just one woman I spoke to, and in one day she received 40 direct messages from people who didn’t even knows and has been harassed. But you have to present it with other data, quantitative data. Sometimes that kind of little story gets lost. ”

And too often the problem is not solved. “If you’re a ‘low product manager,’ you can do the best job in the world, but if you don’t get X new users to sign up, you won’t get your bonus or be promoted,” she says. To really deal with the problems, “The way the company stimulates product teams should change radically,” she added.

Another complication: Facebook is structured to withstand such change. Changing a product to improve security or reduce misinformation in something like a News Feed involves the work of several teams, sometimes in double digits. As noted in a badge poster, making a change to the integrity that improves safety requires approval from multiple departments. But only one “no” is needed to stop this change from happening.

Even worse is the resistance coming from senior employees in Facebook’s food chain. “Integrity teams face growing barriers to building safeguards,” said a researcher in a badge post on August 25, 2020. “In recent months, I’ve seen promising interventions by integrity product teams, with strong research and data maintenance. be prematurely stifled or severely constrained by key decision-makers – often based on concerns about public and political stakeholder reactions… Fears of potential the public and political responses of stakeholders, we are consciously exposing consumers to risks of damage to integrity. “

Over the past few years, I’ve spent hundreds of hours talking to Facebook employees, including Mark Zuckerberg and immersing yourself in the way the company works. However, I found the documents on Facebook a revelation – not because they contain big surprises about the weaknesses, conflicts and unacceptable compromises made by Facebook and its leaders, but because they reveal how well these leaders were aware of the platform’s shortcomings. In the last few weeks, comparisons between Facebook and Big Tobacco have gained popularity. But Nick Clegg rejected that analogy, and I actually agree with him. There is no mitigating factor in tobacco: cigarettes do not improve anyone’s health and they will kill you. Instead, when I look at these documents – which prove that so many of the terrible things we heard about Facebook were properly reported and documented by its researchers and presented to company executives – I think of another corporate crisis that happened two years before Mark Zuckerberg was born.

Early one morning in September 1982, the parents of 12-year-old Mary Kellerman of the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove found their daughter dying on the bathroom floor. Hours earlier, she had complained of a cold and her parents gave her an Extra-Strength Tylenol capsule, the nation’s most popular remedy for mild discomfort. Hers was among the three poisoning deaths reported that day, and each victim had taken Tylenol caps bound with cyanide. The death toll would soon reach seven.


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