11/18 – Mark Zuckerberg’s Response

In a series of articles and social media posts, Mark Zuckerberg’s responses to the Facebook Papers were shown, described, and analyzed. Zuckerbeg argues the interpretation of Facebook’s internal documents are not a true reflection of the company and its values, motives, and aspirations. 

Mark Zuckerberg posted a public response to the criticism following the release of the Facebook papers. These criticisms followed suit after whistleblower Frances Haugen informed media outlets of internal Facebook documents that discuss their biggest problems, such as human trafficking, research on harm to youths, hate speech, misinformation, and more. Consequently, Mark Zuckerberg publicly posted a letter that he circulated to his company. In this response letter, he notes how it is difficult to see coverage that misrepresents Facebook and their motives. He argues that the claims do not make sense and that Facebook always prioritizes human well-being over profits. Moreover, Zuckerberg argues that young children will inevitably use the Internet, so they are building experiences to keep them safe and meet their needs. Similarly, he argues that social media platforms are helping teenagers with mental health struggles. He then goes on to commit to doing more internal, publicly-available research looking at the effects of social media on young people. He ends his post by saying that it is frustrating to get mischaracterized and that they have a real impact on the world in a positive way. Specifically, he says how he is proud of everything Facebook does to build the “best social products in the world.” 

A lot of people commented on Zuckerberg’s post saying that it was too long, which deterred a lot of people from reading what he wrote. Specifically, a lot of commenters said that Zuckerberg should have made a digestible video response to the controversy. One comment that stuck out to me was, “Sometimes things are better left unsaid. If you need to defend yourself with a novel, it’s suspicious.”

In CEO Mark Zuckerberg responds to the massive Facebook document dump, Clare Duffy shows how Facebook responded to the controversy and how they care about investors/profits. Duffy included the following quote from Zuckerberg: “Good faith criticism helps us get better, but my view is that we are seeing a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company. The reality is that we have an open culture that encourages discussion and research on our work so we can make progress on many complex issues that are not specific to just us.” Duffy then notes how Facebook emphasized their profit-making abilities and successes to investors following the controversy. She argues that investors prioritize potential for growth rather than potential for harm, which is evident in Facebook’s continuous positive appraisal of their efforts. Overall, this article showed how Zuckerberg dismissed the criticisms and how he is proud of Facebook’s progress/success. 

In Mark Zuckerberg angrily insists Facebook is the real victim here, Jack Morse shows how Zuckerberg’s response to the Facebook Papers is misplaced. Morse notes that Zuckerberg is “sick and tired of all the harm caused to Facebook” rather than the other way around. Furthermore, Morse argues that Zuckerberg conflated the fact that Facebook does their own internal research because it has been found that Facebook leadership does not listen to the findings and recommendations of internal research. Morse concludes the article by saying that the Facebook internal documents show that the company does not care about their constituency of people, even though they say they do. 

Overall, the articles and Zuckerberg’s responses were really interesting, but unsettling at the same time. I appreciated reading Zuckerberg’s own written response, but his feelings/perspective seem disingenuous and not true. He can say that they care about people over profits, but I do not think that is fully the case. There seems to be both implicit and explicit actions taken that are appealing to investors, but not the general public’s well-being, privacy, and safety. Moreover, Zuckerberg noted how Facebook’s internal research found that social media usage helps teenager’s mental health. The inclusion of this argument left me feeling unsettled because our class has consistently discussed the proven negative effects of social media on teenager’s well-being. Will Facebook ever fully own up to its problems? What problems do you see in Zuckerberg’s responses?

One thought on “11/18 – Mark Zuckerberg’s Response

  1. I definitely want to read Mark Zuckerberg’s response after reading your blog post. While I read the coverage of the Facebook papers in the NYT, it would be really useful and interesting to compare what they had to say to the creator of Facebook, himself. I agree with your points, from what I know about his responses, that he does not seem genuine. At least from what I read in the NYT, it seems he could be doing a lot more to stop the spread of hate on his platform and because of the profit he would loose, is choosing not to.

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