Just like Mark Zuckerberg after getting dumped back at Harvard, Facebook got big mad on the internet in response to Netflix’s viral documentary The Social Dilemma. We all intuitively felt like Facebook addiction was real — we’ve all had to have one of those convos with a parent — but the doc claims to describe how social networks like Facebook use programs and algorithms to keep people online, not to mention the influence tech companies have on elections, discrimination, and depression and suicide rates. According to CNBC, viewers were even deleting their Facebook and Instagram accounts after watching the doc.
In a post published on its website today, Facebook addressed the concerns raised in The Social Dilemma, saying the film “buries the substance in sensationalism.” The post goes on to say: “Rather than offer a nuanced look at technology, it gives a distorted view of how social media platforms work to create a convenient scapegoat for what are difficult and complex societal problems.” While the film argues the algorithms only show content a user will agree with, thus driving polarization, Facebook claimed the algorithms just keep things “relevant and useful.” The company also claimed that product teams are not instructed to increase the amount of time people stay online and said changes in 2018 decreased usage by 50 million hours per day.
Later in the post, Facebook referenced Russian involvement in the 2016 election through the social-media platform. “We’ve acknowledged that we made mistakes in 2016,” the company admitted, mentioning efforts like banning political ads one week before Election Day. The post went on to note that Facebook has employed over 70 fact-checking partners and removed over 22 million pieces of hate speech. “We know our systems aren’t perfect and there are things that we miss,” the company said in the post. “But we are not idly standing by and allowing misinformation or hate speech to spread on Facebook.” And yet how many of you have ever felt personally victimized on Facebook dot com?