Facebook Slams WSJ Report For 'Ignoring Critical Facts' On Polarizing Content

Facebook has slammed a Tuesday report in the Wall Street Journal  accusing the company of 'shutting down efforts to make the site less divisive' and 'largely shelved' internal research on whether social media increases polarization in general.

"Unfortunately, this particular story willfully ignored critical facts that undermined its narrative. The piece uses a couple of isolated initiatives we decided against as evidence that we don't care about the underlying issues - and it ignored the significant efforts we did make," said Facebook VP of Integrity, Guy Rosen.

"The piece disregarded how our research, and research we continue to commission, informed dozens of other changes and new products. It also ignored other measures we've taken to fight polarization. As a result, readers were left with the impression we are ignoring an issue that in fact we have invested heavily in." -Guy Rosen, Facebook VP of Integrity

The Journal claims that Facebook's interest in tackling "sensationalism and polarization" was "fleeting" - as "Mr. Zuckerberg and other senior executives largely shelved the basic research, according to previously unreported internal documents and people familiar with the effort."

Not true, says Rosen, who cited several initiatives the company undertook to fight polarization:

  • In 2018 we made a fundamental change to the way content is surfaced in people's News Feed to prioritize posts from friends and family over news content.
  • Over the past four years, we've built a global team of more than 35,000 people working across the company on issues to secure the safety and security of our services, including those related to polarization.
  • We've added more restrictions to the types of Pages and Groups that we recommend to people.

Rosen also says the site is combating hate speech by prohibiting attacks on "race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability," claiming that the company has "expanded our proactive detection technology to find such content faster and in more languages."