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Zuckerberg Reportedly Approved Using News Feed to Push Pro-Facebook Coverage in Image-Reshaping Bid

© REUTERS / Dado RuvicA 3D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in this illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 13, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic//File Photo/File Photo
A 3D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in this illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 13, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic//File Photo/File Photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.09.2021
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Facebook has been plagued by bad publicity over privacy issues, misinformation and hate speech on its platform, with a recent series of stories by the Wall Street Journal reporting that while the social network is “riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands”, it does little to fix them.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had personally approved an initiative to use the platform’s News Feed to show people positive stories about the social network, reported The New York Times. The News Feed is the cascading screen of content that is seen when users log in.
The initiative, code-named "Project Amplify," presupposed pushing more pro-Facebook news stories, according to sources cited by the publication. The unveiled plan had purportedly "shocked" several executives at the internal meeting in January, as the idea of positioning the News Feed as a place for explicitly burnishing Facebook’s reputation was a novel one.
Mark Zuckerberg - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.09.2021
Mark Zuckerberg
The promotion of some posts written by Facebook employees was also purportedly part of the initiative, allowing users to see posts marked with the company logo that linked to stories written by the company. Once Zuckerberg had approved the plan in August, Facebook went on to test the initiative through a tool called "Quick Promote" in three US cities, claims the report.
According to the outlet, this decision was the company’s first to unambiguously promote positive press about itself and spruce up its reputation amid a plethora of scandals. Facebook has battled public press censure over concerns about user data privacy, the spread of misinformation and hate speech on its platform. Current and former company employees indicated that "Project Amplify" came as executives opted to "go on the offensive" and ditch the social network’s previous “apologetic” stance in the face of criticism.

“They’re realising that no one else is going to come to their defence, so they need to do it and say it themselves,” Katie Harbath, a former Facebook public policy director, was cited as saying.

Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne dismissed claims that Facebook had shifted its messaging strategy. According to him, “Project Amplify” was "a test for an informational unit clearly marked as coming from Facebook", as he argued the initiative was "similar to corporate responsibility initiatives people see in other technology and consumer products."

‘Riddled With Flaws'

A barrage of critical reports have recently targeted Facebook. The Wall Street Journal published a series of damning stories claiming the social network was aware of numerous problems and “ill effects” riddling its platforms that cause harm to users, but is lax on addressing them.
"The Facebook Files" purported that Facebook employees know the social media giant is "riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands”, from the trafficking of humans via the site to overlooking the impact on the mental health of teenagers. The multi-pronged report was supposedly based on reviewed leaked internal company research, online employee discussions and drafts of presentations to Facebook management.
Facebook dismissed the allegations as full of "deliberate mischaracterisations" in a statement by Nick Clegg, the company's vice president of global affairs.

"At the heart of this series is an allegation that is just plain false: that Facebook conducts research and then systematically and wilfully ignores it if the findings are inconvenient for the company," stated Clegg.

Clegg added that the company “fundamentally rejects this mischaracterisation of our work and impugning of the company's motives."
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