On October 5 a former member of Facebook’s civil disinformation team named Francis Haugen testified before Congress. In its nearly two years in Facebook, Haugen said, she has constantly seen the company prioritize growth over everything else, to the detriment of its customers and society at large. For a long time, he ignored the warnings of his own researchers about the potential harm of the platform. And she had collected thousands of pages of internal documents – now commonly known as The documents on Facebook– to prove it.
The documents were disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission and submitted to Congress in an edited form by Haugen’s legal adviser. The edited versions have been reviewed by a consortium of news organizations, including WIRED.
The Wall Street Journal already published a a series of stories based on some of these internal reports. But the documents in their entirety are most remarkable with the window they provide in Facebook’s recurring flaws: how employees identified potential solutions to deep-rooted problems and remained unheard; how some of the same the researchers left the company deeply disappointed; what are the downsides of growth at any cost felt most acutely in developing countries.
The following stories capture these themes, drawing on the posts and reports of Facebook employees themselves. Given the sheer volume of documents – and the waves that are already being felt on and off Facebook – they’re probably far from the last word. As WIRED and others continue to sift through the tranche, expect more revelations to come, along with any repercussions that may follow.
Internal research documents provide a plan for solving the company’s biggest problems.
The “badge posts” of the company’s former researchers suggest parting ways with the frustrated.
Human reviewers and AI filters struggle to control the flow of content or to understand the nuances in the various Arabic dialects.
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