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i think it has been 100 percent better than the average social media hearing— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) September 30, 2021
Companies like Facebook are not doing enough to protect our kids. Why didn’t Facebook act when its research showed Instagram was harming teens? How far are they willing to go before drawing a line between profit and the safety of our children?— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) September 30, 2021
idk it’s easy to dismiss all these as ‘pretty stupid’ (and i usually do!) but this one felt productive in specific ways. lots of informed, targeted questions; revealing evasions; and shared bipartisan concerns— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) September 30, 2021
Facebook could say: The research is right. It's in our long-term interest to keep our users happy, but right now we're failing. At least we're studying it. Give us some time to make the following fixes...— Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz) September 30, 2021
Instead: Our researchers are bad and so is the press
Today I questioned Facebook about the company's (paused but should be abandoned) plans to launch a new version of Instagram for kids and the harm that Instagram is already causing.— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) September 30, 2021
I was not satisfied with the answers I got and I'm officially reintroducing my KIDS Act. pic.twitter.com/J4P2CZZre7
A plea to those covering Facebook: please stop saying this is more serious because it's not "just a disgruntled former employee" this time (as Blumenthal just did). I get why it's a strong point, but it perpetuates FB's campaign to discredit those of us who spoke out publicly.?? https://t.co/fETKLxjeHc— Yael Eisenstat (@YaelEisenstat) September 30, 2021
With the explicit knowledge that their algorithms promote extremism, incite violence, and exacerbate mental health crises, Facebook puts profit over people.— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) September 30, 2021
5.8M users can spread hate speech, unchecked, while profits rise to $100B. #StopHateForProfithttps://t.co/HAmYfJsThS
"Facebook published annotated slide decks in an attempt to contextualize the documents that The Wall Street Journal published this month, which reported evidence that the company is aware of its negative impact on teen mental health." https://t.co/8OI2Zvg7Nt— Diwa Philippines, XL8or ?? (@DiwaPh) October 1, 2021
This was a classic moment of cluelessness from a Senator, but also, the fact that some senators are clueless about how social media works seems a poor reason to keep the status quo of laissez-faire regulation.— Will Oremus (@WillOremus) September 30, 2021
Zuck scored points w/ "Senator, we run ads" in 2018 yet here we are.
The biggest takeaway from today’s Facebook hearing, for me at least, is that a lot of Republicans working to limit Facebook’s ability to moderate legal content are upset with Facebook for not moderating a lot of legal content.— Patrick Hedger (@PatHedger18) September 30, 2021
Top takeaways:— Cecilia Kang (@ceciliakang) September 30, 2021
-Facebook has become much more defensive and is doubling down
-The regulatory path is totally unclear, even with unanimous outrage
-Today's hearing was the warmup for the whistleblower hearing on Tuesday
-Where are Mark and Sheryl?
Its odd to me that people consider this extra context as mitigating the cringeworthiness of Sen Blumenthal's later query as to whether FB will "commit to ending Finsta." Alt account creation isnt a discrete product or a feature, its a behavior that exists on most social platforms https://t.co/v4NzbUVtKB— Eric Seufert (@eric_seufert) October 1, 2021
Fascinating slide from the WSJ document dump of FB research. Instagram users who follow the Kardashians and Jenners are more likely to feel more negative comparison. Researchers proposed "partnering" with them for a campaign. https://t.co/z3MITH9P0h pic.twitter.com/eomdpfNpDJ— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) September 30, 2021
last time a congressional gaffe went viral — “senator, we sell ads” — it became a meme inside of Facebook, an in-joke on how out of touch regulators are. (if memory serves, i believe it was made into laptop stickers). the hubris!— rat king (@MikeIsaac) October 1, 2021
different vibe this time https://t.co/6oLtE0n0ma
Ok, here's the dunking clip. Blumenthal's wording could have been better. But we know he knows what finstas are cuz he just told us! With the context, this clips meaning changes. He's concerned about the biz model/parent knowledge. Not that you shit post.pic.twitter.com/owo2GoyJXy— Zamaan Qureshi (@zamaan_qureshi) September 30, 2021
A big takeaway the world should get from this reporting by @JeffHorwitz & co is that there exist amazing researchers (and engineers, data scientists, etc) at these companies. We work tirelessly to figure out problems, how to fix them, how to build better.— Sahar Massachi (@sayhar) September 30, 2021
And we have answers!
When asked whether Facebook will retaliate against the whistleblower, Antigone Davis repeatedly says it won't retaliate against her "for coming to the Senate"—pointedly leaving open the possibility of retaliating against her for leaking to the WSJ.— Gilad Edelman (@GiladEdelman) September 30, 2021
Everyone is dunking on this as Blumenthal just not knowing what Finsta means, but it could be more sinister: when he says 'will you commit to ending that type of account," he's likely referring to ending anonymous accounts or requiring verification / ID, a human rights disaster https://t.co/oxKchfJ16M— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) September 30, 2021
it is interesting to see of the different stories Wsj dropped last week, which one really stuck— rat king (@MikeIsaac) September 30, 2021
might be the nature of dropping a set of differing topics at once, but also wonder if it’s just a long-simmering suspicion that the kids aren’t alright somehow
Facebook published two of these slide decks about half an hour after we went to them for comment about the documents we planned to publish.— Georgia Wells (@georgia_wells) September 30, 2021
As in even the people who dislike Facebook and WANT better Trust & Safety for harms at the heart of the hearing think this is just:— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) September 30, 2021
-completely uninformed at best
-political grand-standing at medium
-actually counter productive to real reform at worst https://t.co/VieQt2NWTb
The thing about FB saying they'll intervene when teens linger on a certain content is: When I was a teen feeling bad about myself because, idk, AIM chats, the cold hand of a corporate nudge wouldn't have made me feel better. I wanted peer validation. Not sure how this solves that— issie lapowsky (@issielapowsky) September 30, 2021
I literally have a whole chapter in my book called "Senator, We Run Ads" about how the Senate gerontocracy is incapable of regulating Facebook because most of them are too old to understand it... But "Will You Commit to Ending Finsta" is SO much better https://t.co/ZfPhUlU0oJ https://t.co/kgKUP0BNg1— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) September 30, 2021
The senator is apparently talking about his "finsta" flub yesterday, which was one of the top trending Twitter topics.— Steve Kovach (@stevekovach) October 1, 2021
It was a funny moment for sure.
But overall, the questioning from senators, including Blumenthal, in the hearing was the best we've seen yet. https://t.co/VDoTBDhsRh
Here's the full exchange. Unlike Sen. Orrin Hatch in 2018 (who was mocked based on a clip that was taken out of context to suggest he didn't know Facebook runs ads), the longer clip in this case doesn't really get any less awkward for Sen. Blumenthal. https://t.co/dn0LCmdiQ4— Will Oremus (@WillOremus) September 30, 2021
Senators grilled a Facebook official today — accusing the company of putting profits ahead of children's wellbeing and concealing the harms that its apps pose to young people.— NPR (@NPR) September 30, 2021
The hearing came days after Facebook "paused" work on an app for kids under 13.https://t.co/fXWqzYJUQQ
Davis says Facebook's research shows that Instagram is helping teens with many difficult issues they're going through— Shirin Ghaffary (@shiringhaffary) September 30, 2021
Says that the company has built AI to deal with suicide risk, launched tools for time well spent, and other features to help users w/ mental health issues
An easy dunk but real issue is staff. He is just reading their preparation. Whole point of a committee/staff process is to prepare good questions. It isn’t reasonable to expect him to know everything (even for a hearing), but each Sen has 20+ staff. Also Commerce has 75 staff. https://t.co/geCoOakmak pic.twitter.com/NSvLLc3Xc3— Steven Sinofsky – stevesi.eth (@stevesi) October 1, 2021
Hard to overstate how much a difference it makes for hearings like this now that Congress has access to 1000s of internal FB docs. It forces Facebook to downplay the significance of its own research... how many times did Antigone Davis say "this is not bombshell research"— Karissa Bell (@karissabe) September 30, 2021
the full slides released by @WSJ are WILD.— Jesse Lehrich (@JesseLehrich) September 30, 2021
in this presentation, Facebook researchers explain exactly how & why Instagram drives teen girls into downward spirals of depression in ways that other platforms don't.https://t.co/8CMevqRn4Z pic.twitter.com/Df6wCjkts4
Best guess at what happened here: Blumenthal’s staff (which overall has been pretty good in this stuff) understands finstas, and his prepared remarks reflect that. The senator himself gets the gist of the problem but mistook a common user practice for an actual Instagram feature.— Will Oremus (@WillOremus) September 30, 2021
Message from a source who has worked in Trust & Safety for 15+ years:— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) September 30, 2021
"This Senate hearing is preeeeeetty stupid"
So here is a selection of the documents related to teen mental health that we relied on. Facebook just ran two docs -- minutes after we gave the company an hour's notice and received a commitment that they wouldn't front-run publication. https://t.co/PgEaLT9B4R— Jeff Horwitz (@JeffHorwitz) September 30, 2021
Here Senator Blumenthal perfectly explains what "finstas" are (fake instas). He's seen documents from the FB whistleblower which indicates FB sees a business proposition in users creating second, private accounts sometimes without the knowledge of parents. THIS IS IMPORTANT. pic.twitter.com/bpH2FU7cQw— Zamaan Qureshi (@zamaan_qureshi) September 30, 2021
I wrote @nytopinion about some of the long term takeaways for reform that came out of @JeffHorwitz's great Facebook Files series at @WSJ— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) October 1, 2021
Special thanks to @alexstamos & @jilliancyork who both gave me great thoughts and/or quotes that unfortunately got cuthttps://t.co/areMqXZZ4y
Today we provided Congress with the research decks that were the primary focus of the Wall Street Journal’s mischaracterization of internal Instagram research on teenagers and well-being. We published these two research decks with annotations here: https://t.co/uuu86OYqGQ— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) September 30, 2021
This is a new for me in 2.5 years covering Facebook -- I have always been able to rely on the company's word on professional matters, and was told when I started this beat that the old "Front-running the NYT on Russia stuff" move was retired. But circumstances change.— Jeff Horwitz (@JeffHorwitz) September 30, 2021
Sen. Blumenthal: "Will you commit to ending Finsta?"— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) September 30, 2021
Facebook safety chief: "We don't actually do Finsta. What Finsta refers to is young people setting up accounts where they want to have more privacy" https://t.co/666QVRuBpw pic.twitter.com/Uug80EG3zu
Fun— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) October 1, 2021
So now it is abundantly clear. @JeffHorwitz and the @WSJ weren't cherry-picking, but actually only reporting the tip of the iceberg. If you're a teen or tween who struggles with mental health issues, IG is not a safe place. And many young people are struggling. 1/— Laura Edelson (@LauraEdelson2) September 30, 2021
Wow. @SenBlumenthal said his office set up an Instagram account identifying as a 13-year-old girl.— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) September 30, 2021
Followed some “easily findable accounts associated with extreme dieting and eating disorders."
And with a DAY Instagram was recommending accounts that promote self-harm.
members of congress have become more sophisticated.... This week the dam seemed to break [&]...more lawmakers realize that researchers should have access to company data, to assess how services are working. Thx for including my thoughts @ceciliakang https://t.co/TBstmgzqbp— Karen Kornbluh (@KarenKornbluh) September 30, 2021
Sen. Blumenthal, stern-faced, asked Facebook's Antigone Davis, "Will you commit to ending Finsta?"— Will Oremus (@WillOremus) September 30, 2021
Davis explained that it's slang for a fake account--not an official Instagram product or service.
Running for office on a pledge to end Finsta— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) September 30, 2021
I get it, I totally agree about the evasions & as @ceciliakang said value of putting things on the record— Kate Klonick (@Klonick) September 30, 2021
But there's a LONG history here of gov't over-rotating on "protecting children" that leads to bad reform that 1) doesn't really help kids; 2) hurts things we value
after many of these hearings, it was very clear how FB's rep would stick to messaging points.— Cecilia Kang (@ceciliakang) September 30, 2021
the real question is what exactly congress can do to address something as hard/nebulous as instagram's effect on the mental health of teens. what does that law look like?
Still thinking about the presentation at Facebook where someone says "Our platform turns teen girls into grieving widows mourning the death of their own self-esteem."— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) September 30, 2021
I guess that meeting wraps and everyone just goes to their next zoom?
Facebook has a lot to account for, from spreading disinformation during a pandemic to sabotaging the wellbeing of young people and girls.— UltraViolet (Text JOIN to 98688) (@UltraViolet) September 30, 2021
For the sake of young people's future, social media companies and #BigTech must be held accountable.https://t.co/rKKwbG6DIg
It may be convenient or enticing for lawmakers to pass legislation that they can say is protecting kids. It would be better if they would pass legislation that protects everyone, and helps build a more open, democratic, and safe world for our kids to grow up in.— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) September 30, 2021
2/ That Facebook (or any social media platform) put an end to alt accounts is a big ask; how could that be enforced without requiring real identity verification? It'd be quite radical to suggest that all social media platforms do that! Anonymity is often an attractive feature— Eric Seufert (@eric_seufert) October 1, 2021
This line of question from Sen Luján asking if the company collects data on U13 users (a la shadow profiles) is like a twisting knife. Antigone Davis just returns to her talking points, but it is clearly an uncomfortable set of questions she doesn't really answer.— Ryan Mac ? (@RMac18) September 30, 2021
Alone in the Forest.— A.A.Milne (@A_AMilne) October 1, 2021
He sits and thinks of the things they know,
He and the Forest alone together:
The springs that come and the summers that go,
Autumn dew on bracken and heather,
The drip of the Forest beneath the snow
~A.A.Milne #fridaymorning #October1st pic.twitter.com/CrUAoaQOj6
What I'm hearing seems to be: “This research has fueled numerous product changes. It is also our official position that it is dogshit and not representative of experiences on IG”— Sahar Massachi (@sayhar) September 30, 2021
This is just insulting! Insulting to the hard work of integrity researchers in the company.
Facebook employs some the smartest, most talented researchers in the world. Many work there because they want to—and genuinely see ways in which they can—do good. I’m really saddened by how readily the company is throwing these researchers under the bus.— Dr. Rebekah Tromble (@RebekahKTromble) September 30, 2021
Honestly, I think it was pretty good, considering. And the trend line is clear too — legislators are learning rapidly. They still should definitely talk more to integrity/trust and safety people, though. That’s clear.— Sahar Massachi (@sayhar) September 30, 2021
The mainstream critique of Facebook is surprisingly compatible with Facebook's own narrative about its products. FB critics say that the company's machine learning and data-gathering slides disinformation past users' critical faculties, poisoning their minds.— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) September 30, 2021
Watching the Instagram/Facebook teen mental health hearing and Blumenthal starts off talking about an experiment his own office ran to see what Instagram would recommend if they posed as a 13-year-old girl who followed accounts associated with eating disorders. pic.twitter.com/D7OyI8vJwo— issie lapowsky (@issielapowsky) September 30, 2021
The entire FB/Insta teen mental health discussion is missing a *very* important element. Yes you’ve guessed it: influencers. Negative celebrity impact on youth is well documented. It has been happening for decades. W social media what changes is scale&pace https://t.co/5qt92ywFGJ— Catalina Goanta (@CatalinaGoanta) October 1, 2021
Over and over again Facebook comms and leadership have devalued, undermined, and sidelined these researchers’ crucial efforts.— Dr. Rebekah Tromble (@RebekahKTromble) September 30, 2021
I am begging Congress to come prepared and have any knowledge of Facebook when they ask questions.— Christina's chaos magic (@ThatChristinaG) September 30, 2021
You want to regulate something when you clearly don't take the time to understand what actually happens.
It's embarrassing and also highlights why we should have term limits.
The problem is that Davis works on adversarial child safety: CSAM, grooming, sextortion, etc...— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) September 30, 2021
The hearing focused on the weighing of priorities by product and leadership, which in the IG world means Mosseri's decisions. Sending Davis as the sacrificial lamb was cowardly.
Secrecy is the standard model?!! I guess. Anyway, I'm just looking forward to seeing the whistleblower at the hearing instead. We need more of those moments instead of FB groupies showing up.— Shireen, Harlem's Shuri, In Political Mecca! (@digitalsista) October 1, 2021
Facebook's secrecy boomerang https://t.co/txcFUAzWaw pic.twitter.com/aNA9OhTUe8
It's become very fashionable to talk about regulating tech companies like Facebook. But as @GiladEdelman points out in this piece, Congress has passed exactly zero laws to do as much in the three years since it's brought Facebook executives in for hearings https://t.co/U6zAG3DPrF— Arielle Pardes (@pardesoteric) September 30, 2021
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