In its introduction to the eight-part investigation, the Journal wrote: “Time and time again, documents show that Facebook researchers have identified the platform’s detrimental effects. Time and time again, despite congressional hearings, its own commitments, and numerous media briefings, the company has not fixed them. “The documents obtained by the media” offer perhaps the clearest picture to date of the ‘extent of knowledge of Facebook’s issues within the company, right down to the CEO himself “.
“There is no perfection in social media as much as in any other area,” Clegg told CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter. “And then what we have to do is fix this problem.”
Teens who already have low self-esteem will take to social media and start comparing themselves to others, Clegg said, and Facebook can’t control the “basic human tendency” of the comparison.
“I don’t think it’s intuitively surprising that if you don’t already feel good about yourself then going on social media can actually make you feel a little worse,” Clegg said. Following the WSJ report, Clegg said Facebook will introduce parental controls and tools that will be designed to encourage teens not to dwell on certain content.
Control the fire
Stelter then asked Clegg why Facebook hadn’t just released the internal research itself, instead of being put in the position of having a whistleblower disclosing the documents.
The question of whether Facebook “has deliberately swept [the research] under the rug has literally turned it upside down, ”Clegg said. He added, “If we don’t want to answer these questions, we wouldn’t commission the research in the first place. We do this precisely to be able to work in the minority of cases where people do not have a good experience on our platforms.
But Clegg acknowledged that Facebook was under increasing criticism for not being able to control what it created.
“We’re never going to be absolutely on top of this 100% of the time because it’s an instant, spontaneous form of communication,” Clegg said. “There is a world of difference between doing a peer-reviewed exercise in cooperation with other academics and preparing articles in-house to provoke and inform internal discussion.”
Clegg called the claim “ridiculous” and said Facebook was not responsible for what happened that day.
“The responsibility for the violence of January 6 rests entirely with those who inflicted the violence and those who encouraged it, including President Trump,” Clegg said.
Clegg acknowledged that regulating its platform could be “really helpful” if it relaxed privacy and data protection rules, which could allow researchers outside Facebook to access sensitive data.
“None of Facebook’s defenses cited a single factual error in our reporting,” the Journal said in a statement. The outlet said it had asked Facebook to publish the internal research it was reporting, which Clegg has not confirmed that Facebook will do.
Clegg’s responses and the occasional stonewlaling prompted Stelter to say, “Part of me feels like interviewing the head of a tobacco company right now.” Clegg replied that the comparison is “deeply wrong”.
“There must be a reason why a third of the world’s population enjoys using these apps,” Clegg said.