Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded Monday to the release of thousands of company documents recently leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen, saying large companies “should be scrutinized” and arguing that the leaked documents could be used to “paint a false picture” of the company.
The statement noted the company’s brands—that include Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, among others—now include almost 3.6 billion people worldwide.
“I believe large organizations should be scrutinized and I’d much rather live in a society where they are than one where they can’t be,” Zuckerberg said in the statement.
“Good faith criticism helps us get better. But my view is that what we’re seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company,” he added.
Zuckerberg also addressed the complexities involved in making rules regarding social media as an individual company.
“It makes a good soundbite to say that we don’t solve these impossible tradeoffs because we’re just focused on making money, but the reality is these questions are not primarily about our business, but about balancing difficult social values,” he said.
“And I’ve repeatedly called for regulation to provide clarity because I don’t think companies should be making so many of these decisions ourselves,” Zuckerberg added.
The decisions Zuckerberg alluded to may point to issues addressed in some of the documents released by Haugen. The recently released content includes information about hate speech, misinformation, addressing controversial topics like human trafficking, and more.
Recent reports have also highlighted research regarding social media’s negative impact on young people.
Facebook officials had internal research in March 2020 showing that Instagram—the social media platform most used by adolescents—is harmful to teen girls’ body image and well-being but swept those findings under the rug to continue conducting business as usual, according to a Sept. 14 report in The Wall Street Journal.
Zuckerberg’s statement also addressed the upcoming product focus of the company, stating, “Our three product priorities remain our focus on creators, commerce, and building the next computing platform.”
For creators, an upcoming focus is on the Reels feature similar to TikTok and other short video platforms. The company will seek to build on the trend within its own apps.
Commerce solutions will focus on helping users set up shops within Facebook or other company apps. The combination of ads and in-app purchases is designed to help the company compete with Apple’s in-app purchase dominance.
The “next computing platform” focus discussed the recently publicized metaverse project Facebook continues to develop. Areas such as the Quest 2 and the company’s upcoming smart glasses will serve as part of a growing “ecosystem” of products and services to connect various aspects of life with Facebook’s technology.
Christia Spears Brown contributed to this report.