A recent report outlines how social media firm Facebook carefully monitored posts on the platform about the company itself using a number of online tools. Bloomberg specifically notes in its report that the company used tools to “snuff” posts calling Mark Zuckerberg an alien.
A report from Bloomberg titled “How Facebook Fought Fake News About Facebook,” outlines how the social media giant used a number of online tools to fight rumors and allegedly false claims about itself on its own platform. The report outlines how through the use of a tool called “Stormchaser,” Facebook tracked down and monitored hoaxes across the platform.
Since 2016, Facebook employees have used Stormchaser to track many viral posts, including a popular conspiracy that the company listens to users through their phone’s microphone, according to three former employees. Other topics ranged from bitter protests (the #deleteFB movement) to ludicrous jokes (that Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is an alien), according to one former employee. In some cases, like the copy-and-paste hoax, the social network took active steps to snuff them out. Staff prepared messages debunking assertions about Facebook, then ran them in front of users who shared the content, according to documents viewed by Bloomberg News and four people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified discussing private initiatives.
Stormchaser wasn’t the only tool that Facebook used to track down misinformation, one tool allowed Facebook to gain insight into the content posted to encrypted messaging app WhatsApp based on what was being said about WhatsApp on Facebook. But Stormchaser was seemingly relied on to police Facebook itself. Sources allege that the company was most concerned with “fake news” about Mark Zuckerberg’s organization over other topics.
According to a former staffer who worked with Stormchaser, the initiative showed how the company prioritized projects refuting fake news about Facebook over other forms of misinformation spreading on the social network. The company now hires outside fact-checking groups to try to correct false content on its service, although results have been spotty. Still, other former employees described Stormchaser as a necessary effort to inform users and clarify information, something that most companies do.
Facebook claims that the tool was only used a few times to alert users about hoaxes and hasn’t been used since 2018.
A Facebook spokeswoman said the messages countering hoaxes were only sent a handful of times, including in the Philippines. In another instance in 2015, messages were sent to clear up a rumor that Facebook would start charging users. The next year, data from Stormchaser was used to send people in India and Brazil more information about a plan for WhatsApp to share account information with its parent company, Facebook. The spokeswoman disputed the idea that Stormchaser was similar to combating misinformation more broadly, a massive challenge for Facebook since 2016.
Read the full article at Bloomberg here.