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Facebook Papers shake tech giant as it focuses on ‘metaverse’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this August 17, 2021, AFP file photo illustration, a person looks a Facebook App logo displayed on the background in Arlington, Virginia.

A series of leaks around Facebook activities is shaking up the tech giant as it tries to shift focus by introducing “metaverse”

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said on Monday that he was “shocked” by the news the Facebook was rebranding itself as “metaverse” as well as hiring new employees in Europe, an attempt probably aimed at diverting attention from documents being leaked by 17 news outlets since Friday.

“I was shocked to hear that Facebook wants to double-down on the metaverse and that they’re going to hire 10,000 engineers in Europe to work on the metaverse,” Haugen said during testimony to a British parliamentary committee, according to NBC News.

‘Furling fire’

Facebook released a statement, rejecting the idea portrayed in the tens of thousands of pages of internal research, which Haugen took with her before she left the company.

“At the heart of these stories is a premise which is false,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement in response to the barrage of reporting on the issue. “Yes, we’re a business and we make profit, but the idea that we do so at the expense of people’s safety or wellbeing misunderstands where our own commercial interests lie. The truth is we’ve invested $13 billion and have over 40,000 people to do one job: keep people safe on Facebook.”

The documents also showed frustration among Facebook employees to effectively control the spread of disinformation, in part in relation to claims by supporters of former US President Donald Trump that the 2020 election was “stolen” and the billionaire businessman is the country’s true leader.

“Haven’t we had enough time to figure out how to manage discourse without enabling violence?” an employee wrote on an internal message board during the Jan. 6 protest outside the US Capitol, according to The Associated Press. “We’ve been fueling this fire for a long time and we shouldn’t be surprised it’s now out of control.”

Haugen argued that for Facebook the issue of safety is matter of “cost” rather than “growth,” retiring previous remarks that Facebook has prioritized profits.

“Because I was like, ‘Wow, do you know what we could have done with safety if we had 10,000 more engineers?’ It would have been amazing,” said Haugen.  “I think there is a view inside the company that safety is a cost center, it’s not a growth center, which I think is very short-term in thinking because Facebook’s own research has shown that when people have worse integrity experiences on the site, they are less likely to retain,” Haugen said.

The so-called “Facebook Files” or “Facebook Paper” were initially presented to the US Securities and Exchange Commission and now it is being incrementally released by the US media.

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