Leaks abound on Facebook, ranging from election misinformation to child abuse

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According to media reports on Friday, Facebook held back on doing everything it could to prevent members from becoming radicalized and misinformation about the US election from flooding the social network.

A number of US news sources highlighted documents provided by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, adding to a slew of damning disclosures already made public based on her research.

On Friday, articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other publications focused on how Facebook seemed to have exacerbated political conflict.

An internal study found that 10% of political information viewed by US users in the days following the election promoted the myth that the election was rigged.

Former President Donald Trump has often repeated what has been known as the “Big Lie,” enraging his fans, who stormed the US Capitol in a violent attack on January 6.

Trump has been banned from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms for supporting violent attempts to obstruct the democratic process.

According to revelations made public on Friday, Facebook may have foreseen such problems.

‘Carol’s journey’

The material was purportedly discovered in Haugen’s tens of thousands of internal records that he disclosed to US Securities and Exchange Commission regulators.

Early this month, Haugen told US senators that the social media behemoth promotes divisiveness, damages children, and urgently needs to be regulated, eliciting promises from Congress to take long-delayed action.

Haugen’s statement has ignited one of Facebook’s most significant crises to date, prompting a denial from CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who wrote on his account that her assertion that the firm prioritizes profit before safety is “simply not true.”

A recurrent thread in the discoveries is that Facebook was aware of issues that were harming users and society, but decided to ignore them in significant part.

“Carol’s Journey to QAnon,” a paper created by Facebook’s own internal researchers, was mentioned in several articles on Friday.

In 2019, Facebook’s security staff allegedly created a false account for Carol Smith, a “conservative mother from North Carolina.”

According to the researchers, the social network software immediately bombarded Smith with a “barrage of extreme, conspiratorial, and graphic content,” including from the QAnon movement, which is infamous for spreading unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

Defense

Faced with rising criticism, Facebook released a new list of procedures it has done to safeguard the election and keep the social network secure on Friday.

In a blog post, Facebook vice president of integrity Guy Rosen claimed, “Our comprehensive approach to defend the US 2020 elections began years before the election cycle ever began and was designed to endure through the inauguration.”

“The insurrectionists who defied the law and those who incited them bear sole responsibility for the insurgency itself.”

The internet giant’s relentless efforts to fend off critics are unlikely to placate elected politicians who have openly called for action against it.

More discoveries from leaked documents are expected, and another whistleblower, a former employee of Facebook’s integrity team, emerged on Friday.

According to the former employee, Facebook officials disregarded the debate over Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election as a “flash in the pan” and hampered efforts to combat disinformation for fear of angering Trump or his supporters.




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