A former data scientist has written a 6,600-word memo condemning the company for ignoring evidence that the platform was exerted to sway public opinion and influence elections around the world.
Earlier this month, data scientist Sophie Zhang was fired and then eventually posting the memo on her final day.
She implies that she was fired after bringing her concerns to the upper management and has been told to stop focusing on issues beyond the scope of her role that involves analyzing the platform to identify ;
This is Facebook’s phrase for bot networks and other malicious activity with ulterior motives like persuading election outcomes and endorsing undermining various political candidates and other controversial topics.
The memo also indicates that she turned down a $64,000 severance package for it involves the signing of a non-disparagement agreement that may have restricted her ability to speak publicly about the company.
“In the three years I’ve spent at Facebook, I’ve found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions,” Zhang, posted on LinkedIn as working for Facebook’s Site Integrity fake engagement team, wrote in her memo;
In the memo posted, Zhang says that Facebook has often focused on the big-picture issues all the while ignoring many cases of outright political persuasion, like efforts to use Facebook to control public opinion in countries like Ukraine and India.
Zhang’s memo also illustrates how even midlevel employees specializing in areas like data science, like herself, wield immense power within Facebook to moderate the activities of users as high-profile as world leaders.
It was also illustrated in the memo that how midlevel employees specializing in the areas like data science, like her, can wield immense power within Facebook to moderate the activities of users as prominent as world leaders.
Zhang also states that her workload, the total magnitude of the problem, and Facebook’s overall US and Europe-centric approach to reasonable made it, so numerous examples of such political manipulation went unpunished, and no one can bestow time to implementing the company’s rules or taking proper action against foreign actors out of the country.
The memo says Facebook did not act out of malice, but failing to divert enough attention and resources to the problem and cared more about the public relations’ backlash of any issue.
The memo notes how stories printed in major newspapers like The New York Times, or The Washington Post would attract Facebook leadership’s courtesy and may help hasten a solution to a problem like political manipulation in India’s Election.
Facebook is not yet responding to any inquiries about this news.