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FB releases controversial report on most viewed posts that was held back before

New York Times later reported that Facebook had held back the Q1 version of the same report because some of the content could make the company look bad and fuel criticism that it aids the spread of fake news. (REUTERS)Premium
New York Times later reported that Facebook had held back the Q1 version of the same report because some of the content could make the company look bad and fuel criticism that it aids the spread of fake news. (REUTERS)

  • The new section about most viewed posts on Facebook comes at a time when the company is facing regulatory pushbacks in many countries, including the US

NEW DELHI : Social media giant Facebook has reportedly released a report that it held back earlier due to concerns that it would lead to criticism of the company. Last week, the social media firm added a new section to its Transparency Report, detailing the ‘most viewed posts’ on Facebook in the second quarter of 2021. However, the New York Times later reported that Facebook had held back the Q1 version of the same report because some of the content could make the company look bad and fuel criticism that it aids the spread of fake news.

In a series of tweets over the weekend, Facebook spokesperson and policy communications manager, Andy Stone, defended the move over the weekend. “We’ve been getting criticism for holding an internal report until it was more favorable for us and then releasing it. Getting criticism isn’t unfair. But it’s worth taking a closer look—and making note of some of the components of the story," he wrote in one of the tweets.

The top post on the Q1 report was a news piece about a doctor in Miami, who died two weeks after getting a covid-19 vaccine. The post, which some argue could promote vaccine hesitancy, was viewed over 5.3 million times on the platform. Facebook’s vice president of marketing, Alex Schulz, apparently debated internally about whether the report would cause public relations issues for the company.

To be clear, Facebook isn’t required to provide such data by governments, at least so far. In India, for instance, the company has to provide a monthly compliance report about takedown requests it gets from users, etc. But providing data about the most viewed posts isn’t mandated by law(s).

The new section about most viewed posts on Facebook comes at a time when the company is facing regulatory pushbacks in many countries, including the United States (US). Showing posts that get the most views could be an effort by Facebook to quell concerns that it, like other social media platforms, aids the spread of fake news and misinformation online. The new report is limited only to posts in the US right now.

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