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Facebook Papers and what they reveal about ourselves

Since former Facebook employee Frances Haugen blew the whistle on practices at the social media giant earlier this month, news organizations have been combing through the company emails and documents she has provided. The results, now beginning to be reported, show a picture of a company that paid more attention to its profits than to the effect its practices were having on society.

Haugen has testified before Congress and before the UK’s Parliament how Facebook Groups amplify online hate, that its algorithms take people with mainstream interests and push them to the extreme content. Hatred and anger, she said, are the quickest ways for users to grow on Facebook.

“Bad actors have an incentive to play the algorithm,” she said. “The current system is biased towards bad actors, and people who push people to the extremes.”

If pushing its users toward extreme and hateful content is good for Facebook’s business, what does that say about the users? Many people stay away from Facebook, Twitter and other platforms because they can’t take the barrage of abuse that they find, but many people gravitate to it, finding support and justification for their own bitter thoughts.

If more people turned away from Facebook, the company might have to consider changing its ways. But in order for that to happen, more people have to change their ways.

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