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05th Oct 2020

Facebook responds to The Social Dilemma criticism

Wil Jones

Facebook has released a 1,400 word response to the criticisms against it in Netflix’s The Social Dilemma.

The docudrama The Social Dilemma looks at how social media affects our lives, mostly for the worst.

It looks at how platforms have profited through data mining, how they have damaged our mental health, and how they are designed to be addictive.

Now Facebook have decided to respond, with a seven-point document defending themselves from criticisms made in the film.

The statement accuses The Social Dilemma of burying ‘the substance in sensationalism.’

“Rather than offer a nuanced look at technology, it gives a distorted view of how social media platforms work to create a convenient scapegoat for what are difficult and complex societal problems.”

In particular, it says that the film only speaks to people who no longer work for social media companies, and therefore it is out of date and does not reference the work that Facebook is currently doing.

“They also don’t acknowledge—critically or otherwise—the efforts already taken by companies to address many of the issues they raise. Instead, they rely on commentary from those who haven’t been on the inside for many years.”

Facebook then lays out seven points it says The Social Dilemma gets wrong:

  1. ADDICTION: Facebook builds its products to create value, not to be addictive
  2. YOU ARE NOT THE PRODUCT: Facebook is funded by advertising so that it remains free for people
  3. ALGORITHMS: Facebook’s algorithm is not ‘mad.’ It keeps the platform relevant and useful
  4. DATA: Facebook has made improvements across the company to protect people’s privacy
  5. POLARIZATION: We take steps to reduce content that could drive polarization
  6. ELECTIONS: Facebook has made investments to protect the integrity of elections
  7. MISINFORMATION: We fight fake news, misinformation, and harmful content using a global network of fact-checking partners

You can read the whole response here.

The Social Dilemma hit Netflix on 3 September, and has generated much discussion online since.

The film features interviews from those in the tech industry, including former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris, Facebook ‘like’ button co-creator Justin Rosenstein, and former Pinterest president Tim Kendall.

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