According to documents first obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook execs were well aware of the toxic, rightwing cesspool fomenting through the social media service's private groups and chats a full five months before the January 6 seditious riot at the U.S. Capitol Building that left five people dead. Why? Because Facebook makes money from site traffic. And as QAnon has so convincingly demonstrated, fringe lunatics are great for traffic.
Despite previous statements from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that most of the quasi-coup attempt was "largely organized" via other social media platforms, internal researchers found "70% of the top 100 most active US Civic Groups are considered non-recommendable for issues such as hate, misinfo, bullying and harassment." Facebook's data scientists also mentioned that countless users "immediately and repeatedly" posted "calls for violence" when new, inflammatory news hit the platform.
Actively connecting like-minded loonies — Not only did Facebook do little-to-nothing to quell the strategizing leading up to January 6, but its algorithms actively referred users to similarly minded political groups on its platform.
Many Facebook employees were (as usual) appalled not just by the findings, but with the seemingly intentional apathy from their higher-ups. After sustained internal pressure on executives — like the company's VP of Integrity, Guy Rosen — Facebook announced the implementation of various bans on political ads that it almost immediately began contradicting.
Too little, too late, as usual — Following the deadly January 6 riot in DC, Facebook (along with many, many other outlets) finally moved to deplatform former President Donald Trump and his violent supporters, but that was a bit like plugging up an oil tanker's hole after it already dumped its thousands of gallons of crude oil into the ocean.
While Facebook continues to play Whack-a-Mole with the countless Trump QAnon cultist pages, it's clear that the company's focus has almost nothing to do with public safety, especially when profit margins are on the line.
What Holocaust? — But then, this is the same Facebook which only last week began purposefully linking to "credible information" whenever people search for content related to the Holocaust. Sure, it's a step up from literally promoting Holocaust denialism via algorithmic flaws, but the bar was set pretty low from the beginning.
Fingers crossed that a Biden presidency will begin holding tech giants like Facebook accountable for the damage inflicted on this country, but who knows how likely that is, given its attempts to cozy up with the new administration already.