Brushing off whistleblower Frances Haugen accusations that Facebook prioritizes profits over the safety of its users, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that’s just not true. A series of reports published by the Wall Street Journal with leaked documents provided by Haugen highlighted numerous problems on Facebook’s services, which the company is very much aware of but ignores.
“Of everything published, I am particularly focused on the questions raised about our work with kids,” Zuckerberg said in a blog post. “I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the kinds of experiences I want my kids and others to have online, and it’s very important to me that everything we build is safe and good for kids.”
He said the reality is that young people use technology. “Think about how many school-age kids have phones. Rather than ignoring this, technology companies should build experiences that meet their needs while also keeping them safe. We’re deeply committed to doing industry-leading work in this area. A good example of this work is Messenger Kids, which is widely recognized as better, and safer than alternatives,” Zuckerberg explained. “We’ve also worked on bringing this kind of age-appropriate experience with parental controls for Instagram too. But given all the questions about whether this would actually be better for kids, we’ve paused that project to take more time to engage with experts and make sure anything we do would be helpful.”
The Facebook founder said the argument that the platform deliberately pushes content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. “We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don’t want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don’t know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction.”
When it comes to young people’s health or well-being, Zuckerberg says every negative experience matters. “It is incredibly sad to think of a young person in a moment of distress who, instead of being comforted, has their experience made worse. We have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these moments and I’m proud of the work we’ve done. We constantly use our research to improve this work further.”
The Facebook CEO highlighted that the platform has advocated for updated internet regulations for several years now. “I have testified in Congress multiple times and asked them to update these regulations. I’ve written op-eds outlining the areas of regulation we think are most important related to elections, harmful content, privacy, and competition.”
Zuckerberg added that if we’re going to have an informed conversation about the effects of social media on young people, it’s important to start with a full picture. “We’re committed to doing more research ourselves and making more research publicly available.”