It should come as no surprise that Facebook did not like The Social Dilemma. Yesterday, they issued a statement containing a seven-point rebuttal about why the film is wrong and how they are actually ‘trying their best.’
The Social Dilemma debuted on September 9 and made everyone want to throw their phones into the sea. The doco was critical of Facebook and other social media platforms, questioning the ethics behind them.
My friend watched Social dilemma and has since deleted Twitter, IG and WhatsApp???????? now I have to send jokes via email????????
— ????YT:Becoming Dr Mothapo (@Sego_mothapo) October 2, 2020
According to Facebook, The Social Dilemma “buries the substance in sensationalism” and provides a “distorted view of how social media platforms work.”
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) October 2, 2020
The first point that the social media giant makes in its statement is that it does not build products to be addictive, but rather to add value. Their justification of this was that they changed their ranking News Feed to prioritise meaningful social interactions and not viral content. Which smells fishy, when the infinite scrolling of videos still exists.
The doco argued that FB users are the product as Facebook is funded by companies who buy advertising dollars, so they can sell products to users. Facebook argued that its funded by advertising so that it remains free for the people.
Facebook also refuted that its algorithms are ‘mad’ and they are used to better the experience for users.
“Portraying algorithms as ‘mad’ may make good fodder for conspiracy documentaries, but the reality is a lot less entertaining,” they wrote in the statement.
The Social Dilemma also commented on how social media has created further division in society, by only showing users the content that appeals to their own political beliefs, rather than giving them a holistic and real view of the world.
Facebook argued that “polarisation and populism have existed long before Facebook” which doesn’t exactly address the point the film was making. They also claim to be reducing the amount of clickbait headlines and misinformation, as well as trying to make political ads (particularly around the US election) more “transparent.”
This comes after the platform was at the centre of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the data analytics firm harvested millions of FB profiles to build a system that could profile US voters and target them with personalised political advertisements.
People on Twitter were critical of the tech giants response and rightly so. It all feels a bit robotic like Mark Zuckerberg‘s response to the Cambridge Analytica inquiry.
Facebooks response to ‘The Social Dilemma’ is exactly the reason I shut that shit down for good https://t.co/dAq0bMW79I
— const 2021 = new Cooper(????) (@CooperCodes) October 3, 2020
A tale of two facebooks.
Facebook's official response to Netflix’s ‘The Social Dilemma’ documentary.
— Diego Ⓜ️ (@thelastmehican2) October 3, 2020
Hmm yeah we ain’t buying it Zucc.Image: Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla