Facebook has issued an official rebuke to claims made in the new Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma‘, which aims to provide an overview of the various ways in which social media platforms have become increasingly divisive and dangerous as their usage has increased over time.
Released last month, the Jeff Orlowski film takes a look at the dark side of social media through interviews with tech experts and previous Social Network employers, and it has since sparked many discussions online.
Most reviews of The Social Dilemma have actually been highly critical, noting that while the documentary does make some valid and important points, it descends into sensationalism, which ultimately dilutes its key messaging.
But clearly, it’s ruffled some feathers at Facebook HQ for them to issue a statement. The Social Network generally brush off most criticisms and claims of this sort, but with reports that many users have considered deleting their Facebook and Instagram accounts after watching the documentary, the company felt the need to issue a two-page, seven-point response to its core points.
Facebook’s responses are as you would expect:
- On social media addiction – ‘we prioritise meaningful social interactions’
- On people as the product – ‘we don’t sell your information to anyone”
- On algorithms – ‘Portraying algorithms as ‘mad’ may make good fodder for conspiracy documentaries, but the reality is a lot less entertaining’.
- On data usage – ‘Despite what the film suggests, we have policies that prohibit businesses from sending us sensitive data about people’.
- On polarization – ‘The overwhelming majority of content that people see on Facebook is not polarising or even political’.
- On election interference – ‘the film leaves out what we have done since 2016 to build strong defences to stop people from using Facebook to interfere in elections’
- On misinformation – ‘The idea that we allow misinformation to fester on our platform, or that we somehow benefit from this content, is wrong’.
Facebook also said:
“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.”
They went on to say the documentary sensationalises social networks and provides a distorted view of how they work and it argued that its algorithms keep the things users see ‘relevant and useful’ the same way that Netflix, dating apps, Amazon and Uber do.
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