Facebook knew its platform was harming users and undermining democracy -- and did nothing about it.
According to the Wall Street Journal's recent series, the 'Facebook Files,' Facebook failed to act on internal research confirming the harmful effects of various programs.1 This includes one that allowed 5.8 million of Facebook's users with the most global reach to post on its platform without any oversight of harassment, misinformation, or incitements to violence -- including Donald Trump. In 2019, Facebook found the program "not publicly defensible."
But instead of bringing its practices into line with the public interest, Facebook continued to allow Trump and other powerful people to spread misinformation. And it weren't for internal Facebook documents leaked to the WSJ, we'd be none the wiser.
Time and again, Facebook proves it will not moderate itself. The company is too big to entrust with our mental health, our access to information, and our democracy. Sign the petition: tell Congress and federal regulators to break up Facebook!
Facebook reacts to bad press -- for example, by pausing its rollout of Instagram Kids amid intense criticism -- but the social media behemoth will never proactively promote the public interest. Their entire business model is built on promoting controversial content in order to keep users on the site viewing ads the company sells.
That's why Congress and federal regulators must force Facebook to break up the company Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.
Facebook won't stop breaching personal privacy and manipulating the political landscape just because we ask nicely. Instead, we have to end its monopoly power. As long as the company owns so much of the social media landscape, they'll have little incentive to change their behavior.
The 'Facebook Files' also reported that Facebook knew about — and did not adequately address — instances of human rights violations such as human trafficking taking place on the platform. Nor did the company address evidence that a 2018 News Feed algorithm change caused an increase in politically divisive content or research showing that Instagram harms mental health, particularly among teen girls.
Facebook knows what it's doing. They won't reform themselves no matter how much bad press they get. It's time for the federal government to act.
Sign the petition to rein in the power of Facebook!
1. Wall Street Journal, "The Facebook Files," September 16, 2021.