Whistle-Blower to Accuse Facebook of Contributing to Jan. 6 Riot, Memo Says

“We will continue to confront scrutiny — some of it honest and some of it unfair,” he explained in the memo. “But we must also proceed to maintain our heads up large.”

In this article is Mr. Clegg’s memo in whole:


You will have observed the series of posts about us released in the Wall Street Journal in the latest days, and the public curiosity it has provoked. This Sunday night time, the ex-personnel who leaked inner enterprise substance to the Journal will seem in a segment on 60 Minutes on CBS. We recognize the piece is probably to assert that we lead to polarization in the United States, and advise that the incredible ways we took for the 2020 elections were being comfortable as well quickly and contributed to the horrific activities of January 6th in the Capitol.

I know some of you – in particular those of you in the US – are heading to get concerns from buddies and family members about these items so I required to acquire a minute as we head into the weekend to give what I hope is some helpful context on our operate in these very important regions.

Facebook and Polarization

Individuals are understandably nervous about the divisions in society and on the lookout for answers and means to take care of the issues. Social media has experienced a massive affect on society in latest years, and Fb is generally a position the place a lot of this discussion plays out. So it’s purely natural for people today to inquire whether it is component of the issue. But the thought that Facebook is the chief lead to of polarization is not supported by the specifics – as Chris and Pratiti established out in their observe on the concern before this yr.

The rise of polarization has been the issue of swathes of serious academic research in latest many years. In fact, there isn’t a wonderful deal of consensus. But what proof there is basically does not guidance the strategy that Fb, or social media far more typically, is the primary trigger of polarization.

The improve in political polarization in the US pre-dates social media by various decades. If it were being genuine that Facebook is the chief lead to of polarization, we would be expecting to see it heading up wherever Fb is popular. It isn’t. In reality, polarization has gone down in a range of international locations with high social media use at the exact time that it has risen in the US.

Specially, we count on the reporting to advise that a alter to Facebook’s Information Feed position algorithm was accountable for elevating polarizing material on the platform. In January 2018, we built position modifications to advertise Meaningful Social Interactions (MSI) – so that you would see a lot more content from buddies, loved ones and teams you are section of in your Information Feed. This improve was seriously driven by internal and exterior exploration that confirmed that meaningful engagement with buddies and relatives on our system was improved for people’s wellbeing, and we even further refined and enhanced it around time as we do with all ranking metrics. Of class, anyone has a rogue uncle or an aged university classmate who holds strong or serious sights we disagree with – that is life – and the improve meant you are additional likely to come across their posts also. Even so, we’ve created sector-top resources to remove hateful information and reduce the distribution of problematic content. As a final result, the prevalence of detest speech on our platform is now down to about .05{dea5cd636a66006a995d2ee66a169fa3263944642df71bca08b0883f5943a7f3}.

But the uncomplicated simple fact stays that modifications to algorithmic position methods on just one social media platform cannot reveal broader societal polarization. Indeed, polarizing articles and misinformation are also existing on platforms that have no algorithmic rating whatsoever, together with private messaging applications like iMessage and WhatsApp.

Elections and Democracy

There is perhaps no other subject matter that we have been far more vocal about as a firm than on our work to radically change the way we method elections. Commencing in 2017, we started building new defenses, bringing in new knowledge, and strengthening our guidelines to avert interference. These days, we have more than 40,000 people across the organization doing work on safety and security.

Given that 2017, we have disrupted and taken off a lot more than 150 covert influence functions, including in advance of significant democratic elections. In 2020 by yourself, we removed more than 5 billion faux accounts — determining nearly all of them ahead of any person flagged them to us. And, from March to Election Day, we taken out extra than 265,000 pieces of Facebook and Instagram content in the US for violating our voter interference insurance policies.

Offered the extraordinary conditions of holding a contentious election in a pandemic, we implemented so called “break glass” steps – and spoke publicly about them – prior to and after Election Working day to respond to particular and unconventional signals we had been observing on our system and to maintain possibly violating information from spreading before our material reviewers could evaluate it against our policies.

These actions were being not without the need of trade-offs – they’re blunt devices intended to deal with precise disaster situations. It’s like shutting down an full town’s streets and highways in reaction to a non permanent danger that may possibly be lurking somewhere in a particular neighborhood. In applying them, we know we impacted important quantities of information that did not violate our policies to prioritize people’s basic safety all through a period of time of extraordinary uncertainty. For case in point, we constrained the distribution of stay films that our units predicted might relate to the election. That was an extreme phase that aided avert most likely violating content from heading viral, but it also impacted a whole lot of totally usual and realistic content material, together with some that had nothing to do with the election. We wouldn’t just take this type of crude, catch-all evaluate in ordinary situations, but these weren’t normal situation.

We only rolled back again these crisis actions – based on watchful information-pushed analysis – when we saw a return to a lot more normal ailments. We remaining some of them on for a for a longer time time period of time via February this yr and other folks, like not recommending civic, political or new Groups, we have decided to retain permanently.

Preventing Loathe Teams and other Perilous Corporations

I want to be certainly distinct: we do the job to limit, not develop despise speech, and we have distinct policies prohibiting material that incites violence. We do not profit from polarization, in reality, just the opposite. We do not make it possible for perilous businesses, which includes militarized social movements or violence-inducing conspiracy networks, to arrange on our platforms. And we take away material that praises or supports hate teams, terrorist organizations and felony groups.

We’ve been much more aggressive than any other world wide web corporation in combating unsafe content, such as written content that sought to delegitimize the election. But our work to crack down on these hate groups was several years in the producing. We took down tens of thousands of QAnon internet pages, groups and accounts from our apps, eradicated the unique #StopTheSteal Group, and removed references to Halt the Steal in the run up to the inauguration. In 2020 by itself, we eliminated more than 30 million parts of content violating our insurance policies relating to terrorism and extra than 19 million parts of content material violating our policies all over organized despise in 2020. We designated the Very pleased Boys as a loathe organization in 2018 and we proceed to remove praise, guidance, and illustration of them. Among August final yr and January 12 this calendar year, we discovered practically 900 militia businesses below our Unsafe Organizations and Persons coverage and taken out thousands of Internet pages, groups, situations, Fb profiles and Instagram accounts linked with these groups.

This work will never be comprehensive. There will usually be new threats and new troubles to tackle, in the US and all-around the earth. That is why we remain vigilant and inform – and will normally have to.

That is also why the suggestion that is at times built that the violent insurrection on January 6 would not have transpired if it was not for social media is so misleading. To be obvious, the obligation for these activities rests squarely with the perpetrators of the violence, and individuals in politics and somewhere else who actively inspired them. Experienced democracies in which social media use is popular maintain elections all the time – for occasion Germany’s election very last 7 days – devoid of the disfiguring existence of violence. We actively share with Regulation Enforcement material that we can come across on our companies similar to these traumatic occasions. But minimizing the complicated motives for polarization in The usa – or the insurrection specially – to a technological rationalization is woefully simplistic.

We will continue to encounter scrutiny – some of it truthful and some of it unfair. We’ll continue on to be requested tough issues. And many persons will keep on to be skeptical of our motives. That’s what arrives with staying section of a corporation that has a important impact in the earth. We need to have to be humble sufficient to settle for criticism when it is honest, and to make alterations the place they are justified. We aren’t fantastic and we do not have all the solutions. That is why we do the kind of investigate that has been the issue of these stories in the initially put. And we’ll hold seeking for approaches to respond to the feedback we hear from our buyers, such as screening strategies to make confident political content material does not just take around their Information Feeds.

But we must also keep on to maintain our heads up higher. You and your groups do amazing get the job done. Our equipment and products and solutions have a hugely optimistic effect on the entire world and in people’s life. And you have every explanation to be very pleased of that perform.