October 24, 2021

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

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

“We are going to proceed to face scrutiny — a few of it truthful and a few of it unfair,” he stated within the memo. “However we also needs to proceed to carry our heads up excessive.”

Right here is Mr. Clegg’s memo in full:

OUR POSITION ON POLARIZATION AND ELECTIONS

You should have seen the collection of articles about us printed within the Wall Avenue Journal in latest days, and the general public curiosity it has provoked. This Sunday night time, the ex-employee who leaked inside firm materials to the Journal will seem in a section on 60 Minutes on CBS. We perceive the piece is more likely 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.

I do know a few of you – particularly these of you within the US – are going to get questions from family and friends about this stuff so I needed to take a second as we head into the weekend to offer what I hope is a few helpful context on our work in these essential areas.

Fb and Polarization

Individuals are understandably anxious concerning the divisions in society and on the lookout for solutions and methods to repair the issues. Social media has had a huge impact on society lately, and Fb is usually a spot the place a lot of this debate performs out. So it’s pure for folks to ask whether or not it’s a part of the issue. However the concept Fb is the chief explanation for polarization isn’t supported by the information – as Chris and Pratiti set out of their be aware on the problem earlier this 12 months.

The rise of polarization has been the topic of swathes of significant educational analysis lately. In fact, there isn’t an excessive amount of consensus. However what proof there may be merely doesn’t help the concept Fb, or social media extra typically, is the first explanation for polarization.

The rise in political polarization within the US pre-dates social media by a number of many years. If it have been true that Fb is the chief explanation for polarization, we might count on to see it going up wherever Fb is fashionable. It isn’t. In actual fact, polarization has gone down in a lot of international locations with excessive social media use on the identical time that it has risen within the US.

Particularly, we count on the reporting to recommend {that a} change to Fb’s Information Feed rating algorithm was answerable for elevating polarizing content material on the platform. In January 2018, we made rating adjustments to advertise Significant Social Interactions (MSI) – so that you’d see extra content material from mates, household and teams you’re a part of in your Information Feed. This alteration was closely pushed by inside and exterior analysis that confirmed that significant engagement with family and friends on our platform was higher for folks’s wellbeing, and we additional refined and improved it over time as we do with all rating metrics. After all, everybody has a rogue uncle or an old style classmate who holds robust or excessive views we disagree with – that’s life – and the change meant you usually tend to come throughout their posts too. Even so, we’ve developed industry-leading instruments to take away hateful content material and scale back the distribution of problematic content material. Consequently, the prevalence of hate speech on our platform is now right down to about 0.05%.

However the easy reality stays that adjustments 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 don’t have any algorithmic rating in any way, together with personal messaging apps like iMessage and WhatsApp.

Elections and Democracy

There’s maybe no different matter 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 stop interference. Immediately, we have now greater than 40,000 folks throughout the corporate engaged on security and safety.

Since 2017, we have now 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 pretend 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 Fb and Instagram content material within the US for violating our voter interference insurance policies.

Given the extraordinary circumstances of holding a contentious election in a pandemic, we carried out so referred to as “break glass” measures – and spoke publicly about them – earlier than and after Election Day to answer particular and weird indicators we have been seeing on our platform and to maintain doubtlessly violating content material from spreading earlier than our content material reviewers may assess it in opposition to our insurance policies.

These measures weren’t with out trade-offs – they’re blunt devices designed to take care of particular disaster situations. 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 selected neighborhood. In implementing them, we all know we impacted vital quantities of content material that didn’t violate our guidelines to prioritize folks’s security throughout a interval of maximum uncertainty. For instance, we restricted the distribution of dwell movies that our techniques predicted could relate to the election. That was an excessive step that helped stop doubtlessly violating content material from going viral, but it surely additionally impacted a whole lot of fully regular and affordable content material, together with some that had nothing to do with the election. We wouldn’t take this type of crude, catch-all measure in regular circumstances, however these weren’t regular circumstances.

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 a few of them on for an extended time period by way of February this 12 months and others, like not recommending civic, political or new Teams, we have now determined to retain completely.

Combating Hate Teams and different Harmful Organizations

I wish to be completely clear: we work to restrict, not broaden hate speech, and we have now clear insurance policies prohibiting content material that incites violence. We don’t revenue from polarization, in truth, simply the other. We don’t enable harmful organizations, together with militarized social actions or violence-inducing conspiracy networks, to prepare on our platforms. And we take away content material that praises or helps hate teams, terrorist organizations and prison teams.

We’ve been extra aggressive than another 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 as much as the inauguration. In 2020 alone, we eliminated greater than 30 million items of content material violating our insurance policies relating to 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, help, and illustration of them. Between August final 12 months and January 12 this 12 months, we recognized almost 900 militia organizations below our Harmful Organizations and People coverage and eliminated hundreds of Pages, teams, occasions, Fb profiles and Instagram accounts related to these teams.

This work won’t ever be full. There’ll all the time be new threats and new issues to deal with, within the US and world wide. That’s why we stay vigilant and alert – and can all the time should.

That can also be why the suggestion that’s typically made that the violent rebellion 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 wherein social media use is widespread maintain elections on a regular basis – as an example Germany’s election final week – with out the disfiguring presence of violence. We actively share with Legislation Enforcement materials that we are able to discover on our companies associated to those traumatic occasions. However decreasing the complicated causes for polarization in America – or the rebellion particularly – to a technological clarification is woefully simplistic.

We are going to proceed to face scrutiny – a few of it truthful and a few of it unfair. We’ll proceed to be requested tough questions. And many individuals will proceed to be skeptical of our motives. That’s what comes with being a part of an organization that has a major influence on the earth. We must be humble sufficient to simply accept criticism when it’s truthful, and to make adjustments the place they’re justified. We aren’t good and we don’t have all of the solutions. That’s why we do the form of analysis that has been the topic of those tales within the first place. And we’ll preserve on the lookout for methods to answer the suggestions we hear from our customers, together with testing methods to verify political content material doesn’t take over their Information Feeds.

However we also needs to proceed to carry our heads up excessive. You and your groups do unimaginable work. Our instruments and merchandise have a massively constructive influence on the world and in folks’s lives. And you’ve got each motive to be pleased with that work.

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