Facebook failed to disclose declining popularity among teens when selling ads

Facebook It has been accused of misleading the US Securities and Exchange Commission by failing to disclose that its popularity among younger users is declining.

The social media giant is also said to have failed to explain that many of its overall users are people with more than one account on its sites, meaning the actual number of users could be 11% less than its figures. .

Those new revelations, shared in documents from whistleblower Frances Hogen, could put Facebook in hot water, claiming it has misled advertisers about the scale of its business, and how many young users are on its platform. Especially attractive to advertising firms with that demographic.

The documents were disclosed to the US Securities and Exchange Commission and provided in modified form to Congress by Hogen’s legal counsel.

They are set to provide more meat for campaigners – including US congressmen and women – who insist that Facebook’s size and power break antitrust laws, and that it must be broken, or that new rules Should be strangled with.

Facebook researchers sat down on trends that younger audiences are losing interest in the network, but reportedly failed to mention it to investors.

A group of Facebook researchers produced a report in March for Chief Product Officer Chris Cox that uncovered several trends detailing the loss in teen interest.

A trend shows that the time spent on Facebook by US teens was 16% lower from 2020 to 2021, and that young adults between 18 and 29 were spending 5% less time on the app.

Very few teens are signing up for social networks and young people are joining at a much later age than in years past.

Most users born before 2000 created a Facebook account at 19 or 20, but Facebook predicts that those born later, already without an account, may not join until age 24 or 25.

The tech giant may be in violation of SEC rules because advertisers were allegedly defrauded by not disclosing Facebook's impact on teens.  The chart above shows the decline in teen engagement since 2012/2013

The tech giant may be in violation of SEC rules because advertisers were allegedly defrauded by not disclosing Facebook’s impact on teens. The chart above shows the decline in teen engagement since 2012/2013

According to a November 2020 internal document, young adults engage with Facebook much less frequently than their older peers, viewing it as an ‘old network’ with ‘irrelevant content’ that offers limited value to them. It’s ‘boring, confusing and negative’, he says.

So it can continue to expand its reach and power, with Facebook emphasizing high user growth outside the US and Western Europe.

But as it expanded into less familiar parts of the world, the company failed to address or even anticipate the unintended consequences of systematically signing up millions of new users, without providing the staff and systems. To identify and limit the spread of non-hate speech, misinformation. calls for violence.

For example, in Afghanistan and Myanmar, extremist language has flourished due to a lack of people able to speak the local language and computer programs and moderate material. In Myanmar, it has been linked to atrocities committed against the country’s minority Rohingya Muslim population.

But Facebook appears to be unable to acknowledge this, doing little to prevent the real-world collateral damage, with its unchecked growth. Its alleged wrongdoing also includes obscure algorithms that radicalize users, widespread misinformation and extremism, facilitating human trafficking, teen suicide, and more.

The ultimate responsibility for this situation rests with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who describes a former employee as having dictatorial power over a corporation that collects data and provides free services to nearly 3 billion people worldwide.

“Ultimately, it rests with Mark and whatever his prerogative is – and it has always been, to increase his power and his reach,” said Jennifer Grigiel, a communications professor at Syracuse University, who has been a part of Facebook over the years. Follows closely.”

A group of Facebook researchers produced a report in March for Chief Product Officer Chris Cox (pictured above) that uncovered several trends detailing the loss in teen interest.

A group of Facebook researchers produced a report in March for Chief Product Officer Chris Cox (pictured above) that uncovered several trends detailing the loss in teen interest.

The revelation came after a group of nearly two dozen news outlets broke a ban on documents leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen.

The revelation came after a group of nearly two dozen news outlets broke a ban on documents leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen.

Zuckerberg has a strong hold on Facebook Inc. He owns the majority of the company’s voting shares, controls its board of directors and surrounds himself with executives who do not question his vision.

But that has so far been unable to address stagnant user growth and shrinking engagement for Facebook’s product in key regions such as the United States and Europe. Worse, the company is losing the attention of its most important demographic — teenagers and young people — with no clear way to get it back, its own documents reveal.

Internal efforts to mitigate such problems are often pushed aside or abandoned when solutions conflict with development – ​​and, by extension, profit.

Backed in a corner with hard evidence of leaked documents, the company has doubled down on defending its options rather than trying to fix its problems.

“We don’t and we haven’t prioritized engagement over security,” Monica Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, told the Associated Press this month following the testimony of whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen to Congress. In the days following Haughan’s testimony and appearance on “60 Minutes” – during which Zuckerberg posted a video of him sailing with his wife Priscilla Chan – Facebook has repeatedly tried to defame Haughan by pointing out that that he has not acted directly on many. He revealed the problems.

Facebook tweeted from its public relations ‘Newsroom’ account earlier this month that “a curated selection from the millions of documents on Facebook may not be used in any way to draw reasonable conclusions about us,” the company said. After the discovery that there was a bunch of news organizations. Working on stories about internal documents.

‘At the heart of these stories is a premise that is false. Yes, we are a business and we make a profit, but the idea that we do so at the expense of people’s safety or well-being misunderstands where our own business interests lie,’ Facebook said in a prepared statement on Friday. . ‘The truth is we’ve invested $13 billion and have over 40,000 people to do one thing: keep people safe on Facebook.’

Such statements are the latest sign that Facebook has taken what Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist at Facebook, describes as a ‘siege mentality’ at the company. Zhang last year accused the social network of ignoring fake accounts used to undermine foreign elections. With more whistleblowers – Haugen in particular – coming forward, it has only gotten worse.

“Facebook is going through an authoritarian narrative spiral where it becomes less responsive to employee criticism, internal dissent, and in some cases breaks it,” said Zhang, who was fired from Facebook in the fall of 2020. ‘And this leads to more internal dissatisfaction.’

An employee, whose name was modified after Facebook’s decision last year, wrote on an internal message board, ‘I have seen many colleagues who are extremely frustrated and angry, while at the same time, powerless about the current situation. and feeling (disappointed). Former President Donald Trump for leaving incendiary posts that suggested Minneapolis protesters could be shot. ‘I think, if you want to fix Facebook, do it in.’

The company emphasizes that ‘does not research and then systematically and deliberately ignore it if the findings are inconvenient to the company.’ This claim, Facebook said in a statement, “can only be made by cherry-picking citations from individual pieces of leaked content that presents complex and nuanced issues such that there is only one correct answer.”

Haugen, who testified before the Senate this month that Facebook’s products “harm children, foster division and undermine our democracy,” said the company should declare “moral bankruptcy” if it We have to move on from all this.

‘Facebook regularly surveys its employees – what percentage of employees believe Facebook is making the world a better place,’ Zhang recalled.

‘When I joined it was about 70 percent. When I left it was about 50 percent,’ said Zhang, who had been at the company for more than two years in the fall of 2020 when she was fired.

Facebook did not say where the numbers are today.

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