"Carol Smith," a fake Facebook account created by a researcher for testing purposes, was nondescript in all respects. "Carol's" profile indicated she was a conservative mother from North Carolina interested in Christianity and parenting; she followed Fox News and Donald Trump, but indicated no particular interest in conspiracy theories.
In just two days, Facebook's algorithm suggested that "Carol" join Facebook groups dedicated to QAnon, the far-right conspiracy group.1
Dozens of damning revelations like this came out of the Facebook Papers, the trove of internal documents leaked by whistleblowers. The Facebook Papers make clear: Facebook knew its platform was harming users and promoting extremism — and won't do anything about it. That’s why it’s time to take on their power directly.
Sign the petition: Tell Congress and federal regulators to break up Facebook!
The Facebook Papers demonstrate that Facebook knows it has a near monopoly on social media — and that they abuse their power to help protect right-wing extremists.
Internal documents show Facebook knows that 78% of adults, and nearly all teenagers, use an app owned by Facebook, whether Facebook itself, or Instagram, or WhatsApp. The documents also show Facebook's grand ambition is to leverage that market power to become a "super app" that users rely on for every aspect of their lives.2
What does Facebook do with that power? For one thing, they moderate their site in ways that suit what the company’s Republican lobbyists demand.
The Facebook Papers show that Facebook's own staff were appalled that Republican operative and Facebook Vice President Joel Kaplan, who was a key ally of Brett Kavanaugh during his 2018 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, would weigh in on issues related to speech on the site.3
A leaked report from a Facebook data scientist written in December 2020 stated "Facebook routinely makes exceptions for powerful actors when enforcing content policy." Previous revelations showed Facebook often exempted Donald Trump from content rules.4
In short, the world's most widely used social media app has an algorithm that pushes normal people to embrace extremist conspiracies, and they moderate the content you see to favor the far right.
These are just some of the many abuses Facebook has committed, alongside breaches of personal privacy and its manipulation of the political landscape. Stopping this requires taking on Facebook's monopoly power. As long as the company owns so many social media services, they’ll have little incentive to change their behavior. That's why regulators must break up Facebook.
Time and again, Facebook proves it will not moderate itself. The company is too big to entrust with our access to information, our mental health, and our democracy.
Sign the petition: Break up Facebook!
1. The New York Times, "Facebook Papers Show Employees Raised Concerns About Misinformation," October 22, 2021.
2. Politico, "Facebook documents offer a treasure trove for Washington's antitrust war," October 25, 2021.
3. Politico, "Facebook staff complained for years about their lobbyists' power," October 25, 2021.