Facebook’s profits are rising amid leaked document revelations

By Barbara Ortutay and Kelvin Chan Associated Press

Amid the fallout from the Facebook Papers documents, which support claims that the social network has valued financial success over user safety, Facebook on Monday reported higher profits for the most recent quarter.

The company’s latest show of financial strength followed an avalanche of reports on Facebook Papers – a vast array of edited internal documents obtained by a consortium of news organizations, including The Associated Press – as well as Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s Monday testimony to UK lawmakers.

Facebook said its net revenue grew 17% in the period July-September to $ 9.19 billion, backed by strong advertising revenue. That’s an increase from $ 7.85 billion a year earlier. Revenue grew 35% to DKK 29.01 billion. The results exceeded analysts’ expectations of Facebook’s results.

The company’s shares rose 2.5% in after-hours trading after closing 1% for the day.

“Right now, the revenue picture for Facebook looks as good as can be expected,” said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. But she predicted several revelations and described the results so far as “disturbing and stomach-churning.”

CEO Mark Zuckerberg only briefly mentioned what he called “the latest debate around our company.” He largely reiterated statements he made following Haugen’s testimony on Oct. 5 to a U.S. Senate subcommittee, insisting that he welcomes “good faith criticism” but regards the current storm as a “coordinated effort” by news organizations to criticize the company based on leaked documents.

Haugen, meanwhile, told a British parliamentary committee on Monday that the social media giant is inciting online hatred and extremism, failing to protect children from harmful content and lacking any incentive to solve the problems, giving momentum to the efforts of European governments working to tighten regulation of technology. companies.

While her testimony repeated much of what she told the U.S. Senate this month, her personal appearance aroused intense interest from a British parliamentary committee that is much further ahead in drafting legislation to curb the power of social media companies.

Haugen told the committee of UK lawmakers that Facebook groups are amplifying online hatred, saying algorithms that prioritize engagement take people with mainstream interests and push them to the extreme. The former Facebook data researcher said the company could add moderators to prevent groups over a certain size from being used to spread extremist views.

“Undoubtedly, it makes hatred worse,” she said.

Haugen said she was “shocked to hear recently that Facebook wants to double the metaverse and that they will hire 10,000 engineers in Europe to work on the metaverse,” Haugen said, referring to the company’s plans for an immersive online world. think will be the next big internet trend.

“I thought, ‘Wow, do you know what we could have done with security if we had 10,000 more engineers?'” She said.

Facebook says they want regulation for technology companies and were pleased that the UK was a leader.

“While we have rules against harmful content and publish regular transparency reports, we agree that we need regulation for the entire industry so companies like ours do not make these decisions on their own,” Facebook said Monday.

It pointed to investing $ 13 billion in security and safety since 2016, claiming it has “almost halved” the amount of hate speech over the past three quarters.

Haugen accused Facebook-owned Instagram of failing to keep children under 13 – the age of minimum users – from opening accounts, saying it did not do enough to protect children from content that, for example, makes them feel bad about their crop.

Facebook’s own research describes it as an addict’s story. Children say, ‘This makes me unhappy, I feel like I do not have the ability to control my use of it, and I feel that if I went, I would be ostracized,’ she said.

Last month, the company delayed plans for a children’s version of Instagram, aimed at those under 13, to address concerns about the vulnerability of younger users. Haugen said she was concerned that it might not be possible to make Instagram safe for a 14-year-old and that “I sincerely doubt it is possible to make it safe for a 10-year-old.”

She also said that Facebook’s moderation systems are poorer at capturing content in languages ​​other than English, and that is a problem even in the UK because it is a diverse country.

“Those people also live in the UK and are fed with dangerous misinformation that radicalises people,” Haugen said. “And so language-based coverage is not only a good thing for individuals, it’s a national security issue.”

The pressure on whether she thinks Facebook is basically evil, Haugen grumbled, saying, “I can’t look into men’s hearts.” Facebook is not evil, but negligent, she suggested.

“It believes in a world of flatness, and it will not accept the consequences of its actions,” pointing to its enormous one-level, open-plan office as an embodiment of philosophy.

It was Haugen’s second appearance before lawmakers after she testified in the United States about the danger she says the company poses, ranging from harming children to encouraging political violence and fueling misinformation. Haugen cited internal research documents she secretly copied before leaving her job at Facebook’s unit for civil integrity.

The documents Haugen provided to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission claim that Facebook prioritized profits over security and hid its own research from investors and the public. Some stories based on the files have already been published, revealing internal unrest after Facebook was dazzled by the US Capitol riot on January 6, and how it buzzed about limiting divisive content in India. There will be more.

Representatives from Facebook and other social media companies plan to speak to the UK committee on Thursday.

UK lawmakers are drafting an online safety bill calling for the creation of a regulator that will hold companies accountable when it comes to removing harmful or illegal content from their platforms, such as terrorist material or images of child sexual abuse.


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