Whistle-Blower to Accuse Facebook of Contributing to Jan. 6 Riot, Memo Says

“We’ll proceed to face scrutiny — some of it truthful and a few of it unfair,” he stated within the memo. “However we must also proceed to maintain our heads up excessive.”(*6*)

Right here is Mr. Clegg’s memo in full:(*6*)

OUR POSITION ON POLARIZATION AND ELECTIONS(*6*)

You’ll have seen the sequence of articles about us printed within the Wall Road Journal in latest days, and the general public curiosity it has provoked. This Sunday evening, the ex-employee who leaked inner firm materials to the Journal will seem in a section on 60 Minutes on CBS. We perceive the piece is probably going to assert that we contribute to polarization in america, and recommend that the extraordinary steps we took for the 2020 elections have been relaxed too quickly and contributed to the horrific occasions of January sixth within the Capitol.(*6*)

I do know some of you – particularly these of you within the US – are going to get questions from family and friends about these items so I wished to take a second as we head into the weekend to present what I hope is a few helpful context on our work in these essential areas.(*6*)

Facebook and Polarization(*6*)

Individuals are understandably anxious concerning the divisions in society and searching for solutions and methods to repair the issues. Social media has had a big effect on society in recent times, and Facebook is commonly a spot the place a lot of this debate performs out. So it’s pure for individuals to ask whether or not it’s half of the issue. However the concept Facebook is the chief trigger of polarization isn’t supported by the information – as Chris and Pratiti set out of their observe on the problem earlier this yr.(*6*)

The rise of polarization has been the topic of swathes of severe tutorial analysis in recent times. In reality, there isn’t an important deal of consensus. However what proof there’s merely doesn’t assist the concept Facebook, or social media extra typically, is the first trigger of polarization.(*6*)

The rise in political polarization within the US pre-dates social media by a number of a long time. If it have been true that Facebook is the chief trigger of polarization, we might anticipate to see it going up wherever Facebook is common. It isn’t. In truth, polarization has gone down in a quantity of nations with excessive social media use on the similar time that it has risen within the US.(*6*)

Particularly, we anticipate the reporting to recommend {that a} change to Facebook’s Information Feed rating algorithm was chargeable for elevating polarizing content material on the platform. In January 2018, we made rating modifications to promote Significant Social Interactions (MSI) – so that you’d see extra content material from mates, household and teams you’re half of in your Information Feed. This variation was closely pushed by inner and exterior analysis that confirmed that significant engagement with family and friends on our platform was higher for individuals’s wellbeing, and we additional refined and improved it over time as we do with all rating metrics. In fact, everybody has a rogue uncle or an old-fashioned classmate who holds sturdy or excessive views we disagree with – that’s life – and the change meant you’re extra probably to come throughout their posts too. Even so, we’ve developed industry-leading instruments to take away hateful content material and cut back the distribution of problematic content material. In consequence, the prevalence of hate speech on our platform is now down to about 0.05%.(*6*)

However the easy truth stays that modifications to algorithmic rating techniques on one social media platform can’t clarify wider societal polarization. Certainly, polarizing content material and misinformation are additionally current on platforms that haven’t any algorithmic rating by any means, together with non-public messaging apps like iMessage and WhatsApp.(*6*)

Elections and Democracy(*6*)

There’s maybe no different subject that we’ve been extra vocal about as an organization than on our work to dramatically change the best way we strategy elections. Beginning in 2017, we started constructing new defenses, bringing in new experience, and strengthening our insurance policies to forestall interference. As we speak, we’ve got greater than 40,000 individuals throughout the corporate engaged on security and safety.(*6*)

Since 2017, we’ve got disrupted and eliminated greater than 150 covert affect operations, together with forward of main democratic elections. In 2020 alone, we eliminated greater than 5 billion faux accounts — figuring out nearly all of them earlier than anybody flagged them to us. And, from March to Election Day, we eliminated greater than 265,000 items of Facebook and Instagram content material within the US for violating our voter interference insurance policies.(*6*)

Given the extraordinary circumstances of holding a contentious election in a pandemic, we carried out so known as “break glass” measures – and spoke publicly about them – earlier than and after Election Day to reply to particular and strange indicators we have been seeing on our platform and to hold probably violating content material from spreading earlier than our content material reviewers may assess it towards our insurance policies.(*6*)

These measures weren’t with out trade-offs – they’re blunt devices designed to take care of particular disaster eventualities. It’s like shutting down a whole city’s roads and highways in response to a short lived menace which may be lurking someplace in a specific neighborhood. In implementing them, we all know we impacted important quantities of content material that didn’t violate our guidelines to prioritize individuals’s security throughout a interval of excessive uncertainty. For instance, we restricted the distribution of reside movies that our techniques predicted might relate to the election. That was an excessive step that helped forestall probably violating content material from going viral, but it surely additionally impacted lots of completely regular and cheap content material, together with some that had nothing to do with the election. We wouldn’t take this sort of crude, catch-all measure in regular circumstances, however these weren’t regular circumstances.(*6*)

We solely rolled again these emergency measures – primarily based on cautious data-driven evaluation – once we noticed a return to extra regular situations. We left some of them on for an extended interval of time by February this yr and others, like not recommending civic, political or new Teams, we’ve got determined to retain completely.(*6*)

Combating Hate Teams and different Harmful Organizations(*6*)

I need to be completely clear: we work to restrict, not increase hate speech, and we’ve got clear insurance policies prohibiting content material that incites violence. We don’t revenue from polarization, in truth, simply the alternative. We don’t enable harmful organizations, together with militarized social actions or violence-inducing conspiracy networks, to manage on our platforms. And we take away content material that praises or helps hate teams, terrorist organizations and felony teams.(*6*)

We’ve been extra aggressive than some other web firm in combating dangerous content material, together with content material that sought to delegitimize the election. However our work to crack down on these hate teams was years within the making. We took down tens of hundreds of QAnon pages, teams and accounts from our apps, eliminated the unique #StopTheSteal Group, and eliminated references to Cease the Steal within the run up to the inauguration. In 2020 alone, we eliminated greater than 30 million items of content material violating our insurance policies concerning terrorism and greater than 19 million items of content material violating our insurance policies round organized hate in 2020. We designated the Proud Boys as a hate group in 2018 and we proceed to take away reward, assist, and illustration of them. Between August final yr and January 12 this yr, we recognized almost 900 militia organizations below our Harmful Organizations and People coverage and eliminated hundreds of Pages, teams, occasions, Facebook profiles and Instagram accounts related to these teams.(*6*)

This work won’t ever be full. There’ll at all times be new threats and new issues to handle, within the US and all over the world. That’s why we stay vigilant and alert – and can at all times have to.(*6*)

That can also be why the suggestion that’s typically made that the violent rebel on January 6 wouldn’t have occurred if it was not for social media is so deceptive. To be clear, the duty for these occasions rests squarely with the perpetrators of the violence, and people in politics and elsewhere who actively inspired them. Mature democracies through which social media use is widespread maintain elections on a regular basis – for example Germany’s election final week – with out the disfiguring presence of violence. We actively share with Legislation Enforcement materials that we will discover on our companies associated to these traumatic occasions. However lowering the complicated causes for polarization in America – or the rebel particularly – to a technological clarification is woefully simplistic.(*6*)

We’ll proceed to face scrutiny – some of it truthful and a few of it unfair. We’ll proceed to be requested troublesome questions. And many individuals will proceed to be skeptical of our motives. That’s what comes with being half of an organization that has a major impression on the planet. We’d like to be humble sufficient to settle for criticism when it’s truthful, and to make modifications the place they’re justified. We aren’t good and we don’t have all of the solutions. That’s why we do the type of analysis that has been the topic of these tales within the first place. And we’ll hold searching for methods to reply to the suggestions we hear from our customers, together with testing methods to ensure political content material doesn’t take over their Information Feeds.(*6*)

However we must also proceed to maintain our heads up excessive. You and your groups do unbelievable work. Our instruments and merchandise have a massively optimistic impression on the world and in individuals’s lives. And you’ve got each motive to be proud of that work.(*6*)

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