On Oct. 5, two of the largest social media platforms in the world, Facebook and Instagram, crashed for a total of six hours. Frances Haugen, who worked for the social media company Facebook recently disclosed to the public the company promotes hate and violence to create profit. Known as the “Facebook whistleblower,” Haugen has called out the company’s daring efforts to make money rather than promote peace among people. In an extensive interview with the infamous 60 Minutes, she told CBS correspondent Scott Kelley internal research at Facebook proves they promote, “hate misinformation, and political unrest.” She also told CBS there was research that shows Instagram promotes negative body image, and this is done through algorithms.
Platforms like Twitter also use bots to spread misinformation. In summary, bots are artificial intelligence beings composed of computer algorithms, made to mirror the behavior of a human being. Bots learn how to behave like the humans interacting with it daily online. With the rise of deepfake technology, almost anyone can create a video mimicking what sounds and acts like a real human. In reality, it's fake and truly terrifying.
Haugen specializes in Data Science. She has a degree in Computer Engineering, and holds a Masters in Business from Harvard University.
Facebook acknowledged internally the conflict between the good of the public and profit. However, they chose future self-interests in pulling billions of dollars at the expense of friendships, mental health, and credibility. Facebook is responsible for the worst public relations fail - misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
In chapter seven from the book of Public Relations, written in 2012, it discusses strategic approaches on prioritizing stakeholders. A stakeholder, defined by Freeman in 1984, is “group or individual who is affected by or can affect the success of an organization.” One of these approaches to collaborating with the public is the defensive approach, which uses “the tools of publicity and public information to disseminate ‘facts’ and ‘educate’ the public about an organization's actions or policies in response to criticisms or crises.”
Facebook applied a defensive approach PR strategy to the public, which is considered reactive behavior and primarily acts only in the self-interest of the organization. Chapter seven of the Public Relations book bewares the approach is not ideal. “If public relations is relegated to practicing primarily the defensive approach in organization, then its function is to limit damage control that results in the loss of credibility and trust with valuable publics.” Facebook knew “fact-checks” and “false information” would cause people to rebel - the reason America is still attempting to vaccinate people.
Instead of keeping social media social, and leaving the education to the public experts, Facebook successfully created a war against vaccines, and each other. There is no political side to place blame on. In an interview with NPR, lawmakers put aside differences, each side voicing concern for the spread of hate on social media. They have discredited experts in many fields, from vaccine research to journalism. Facebook killed civil discussion and debate. It has brought out performative activism in many. Every person on the earth believes they are an expert of some sort. In reality, experience is gained through quiet knowledge and observance.
The Facebook whistleblower is a hero. Her concern for the good of the public is valid, and with her knowledge people can work to create civil conversation and education. Facebook profits off of coercion and hostility toward each other. They have rather poor public relations tactics that are deemed uncredible of most information forever.