Facebook Inc.'s board defended how Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg have handled mounting problems faced by the company, in light of a critical report by the New York Times.
The Times detailed obfuscation by Facebook's top bosses on the Russian Federation front, said the company has at times smeared critics as anti-Semitic or tried to link activists to billionaire investor George Soros, and also tried to shift public anger away toward rival tech companies.
Speaking on a conference call on content moderation efforts, Zuckerberg repeated his comments that Facebook was slow to spot Russian interference in the 2016 election but argued that "to suggest we weren't interested in knowing the truth or that we wanted to hide what we knew or stop investigations is simply untrue".
On Wednesday, The New York Times published a scathing exposé covering Facebook's involvement in everything from the Russian Federation investigation to sex trafficking legislation.
In a blog post Thursday, Facebook said there were "a number of inaccuracies" in the story, but also said it cut ties with the opposition research firm.More news: Duterte: South China Sea is now in China's hands, why create friction?
Gaspard said that beyond Soros, "Your methods threaten the very values underpinning our democracy", and asked to speak with Sandberg in person about how Facebook plans to move forward.
The note also addresses how Facebook will approach challenges algorithmic bias, the idea that sensationalist news is some of the content people engage the most with, proactive content removal, regulation, and more. Facebook is the poster child for big data hubris, while Apple has stood out for its dogged resistance to information harvesting and highly targeted advertising in an age where such things are fast becoming universal.
"In the case of a post where someone is expressing thoughts of suicide, this could even mean the difference between life and death", said Guy Rosen, a Facebook vice president for product management. It encouraged journalists to look into links between Mr Soros and groups such as "Freedom from Facebook", a lobby firm that had emerged to campaign against Facebook. On Thursday, Facebook also released a report showing how much "bad content" - ranging from hate speech and bullying to nudity and terrorist propaganda - it is taking down each quarter because it violates the platform's terms of service. Facebook said most of the fake accounts it found were financially motivated, rather than aimed at misinformation. At the same time, Facebook said it had ended its contract with Definers on Wednesday night - just as the New York Times story went to press.
As news of Facebook's use of Definers reached Capitol Hill, one senator implied that Facebook's efforts to push back against critics may add to the company's woes. "I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have".