ELDER: Facebook ‘whistleblower’ blows off the real scandal
Photo by Robert Fortunato for CBS News/60MINUTES /Handout via REUTERS
Stop the presses: Facebook seeks to maximize profits.
“Whistleblower” Haugen worked at Facebook headquarters in what the company called Civic Integrity, which, according to “60 Minutes,” deals with “risks to elections, including misinformation.” There she found that the content Facebook tailors for users seeks to trigger emotions, including anger, so that the user spends as much time as possible on the site.
Consider the following “bombshell” exchange:
Haugen: “And one of the consequences of how Facebook is picking out that content today is it is optimizing for content that gets engagement, a reaction, but its own research is showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it’s easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions. … Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money.”
How is this different from any other medium, whether television, cable television, radio, talk radio, newspapers, tabloids or other media? Recall the adage about newspapers: “If it bleeds it leads.” As a talk radio host for nearly 30 years, I know that ratings evaluate not just how many people listen, but for how long they listen. It’s a major part of the formula that determines the popularity of any given show. The more popular the show, the more advertisers it attracts. The more advertisers a show attracts, the more advertisers pay.