Wall Street ignored the Facebook leaks. Made by Mark Zuckerberg.
The market value of Facebook is just good. But only recently flood of harmful reports about Facebook which first appeared in the Wall Street Journal – from how the company’s products affect the mental health of users how it is contributed to the polarization of construction policy in the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol – clearly disappointing to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In the company’s quarterly earnings call on Monday, Zuckerberg responded to the scrutiny and criticism directed at Facebook by hitting a more challenging tone that was different from his usual bad public behavior.
“Criticism of good faith can help us become better. But my view is that what we saw was a coordinated effort to choose to use leaked documents to paint a wrong picture of our company, ”Zuckerberg said. “The reality is that we have an open culture, where we encourage discussion and research about our work so we can move forward on many complex issues that aren’t specific just for us.”
It’s important to remember that Facebook is performing well financially. The company reports mostly strong quarterly revenue on Monday, even if this is the first report since Apple was introduced privacy change in April that Facebook’s ad business can be very limited. And despite all the reports of potential social harm to its products, Facebook share prices are rising. So the fact that Zuckerberg spent the first few minutes of his 10-minute introductory words on the call defending the moral integrity of his company tells how these reports seem to have made him worse.
Zuckerberg’s comments also raise questions about how he views the role of the press in reporting his company to the public.
The “coordinated effort” of “selective use” leaked internal Facebook documents Zuckerberg mentioned seems to refer to the existence of a reporting consortium in more than 17 newsrooms, including the Associated Press, the Atlantic, and the New York Times, which began publishing articles late last week. The consortium was formed to share thousands of files leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen (Recode joined the consortium on Monday). The initial consortium set a time agreed upon with each other for the publication of their stories, in the so -called “embargo” – a common media practice that Facebook PR itself regularly uses for product rollouts and more. more press announcements. Facebook previously released a public statement attacking the reporting consortium before the articles came out.
In a revenue call Monday, Zuckerberg said he “can’t change the underlying media dynamics,” and instead, he will double down on continuing to create new products for Facebook users.
He has repeatedly called Facebook the “industry leader” in reducing harmful content on its platforms. He also pointed to existing ways in which the company should share snapshots of its internal work with the public, such as self -curated transparency reports, ad archives, Board of Directors, and programs to share selected internal data with external researchers studying things like political polarization and misinformation on the platform’s health information.
“We believe our systems are the most effective at reducing harmful content throughout [social media] industry. And I think any honest account of how we handle these issues should include that, ”Zuckerberg said.
What he did not mention was how many of the transparency mechanisms were criticized for lack of respected outside authorities. Even on Facebook the Oversight Board itself sued the company to withhold important information; in April, the board said Facebook “Not a perfect future,” by “failing to provide relevant and complete information on certain occasions,” and demanding more transparency from the company. And academics have been around for a long time complains that Facebook is too slow and limited in the data it shares for outside studies, which could make academic interaction on Facebook ineffective for time-sensitive research on urgent topics such as social media posts about Covid-19.
Zuckerberg has a point in his saying that Facebook is developing an open culture for in-house, world-class researchers to analyze the company’s most complex problems. His frustration now is that Haugen is sharing what he knows with the public. Even if that doesn’t worry investors, analysts, and shareholders – because Facebook is still a big -profit business – Zuckerberg’s comments on Monday’s earnings calls indicate how hard these drops are. shaking the company. Facebook’s finances may still be under Zuckerberg’s control, but its moral stance is gone.