This week, The Guardian published a bombshell report and interview with former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang alleging that a loophole on the platform allows for governments to create fake supporters and criticize opponents. According to Zhang, Facebook also deprioritizes cracking down on bad actors in poorer countries while using its power to sway politics in wealthier ones.
According to Zhang, she repeatedly tried to fix this problem only to get shot down by higher-ranking executives. When she was ultimately fired, she posted a scathing farewell message on the company’s internal forum spelling out the issues and her frustration. Ultimately, Zhang says, Facebook is putting profit above the well-being of users around the world.
“Facebook is not my enemy,” Zhang wrote on Twitter. “In the end, their goal — like that of any corporation — is profit. We cannot expect them to fix the world out of the goodness of their hearts, any more than expecting Philip Morris to make cancer-free cigarettes. Instead, we hold them responsible. And we also hold responsible the politicians who chose to abuse Facebook to manipulate their own populace.”
For its part, Facebook strongly disagreed with Zhang’s characterization. But it’s hard to deny that the company has all too often made monetary gain its top priority in cases like this.
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