Joe Toscano, a well-known former Google employee, criticized the social network Facebook, accusing it of always putting economic benefits before taking care of its millions of users, especially children and teenagers, who are suffering terrible psychological consequences due to the policies implemented.
Toscano’s comments were made during an interview published by Fox News on Thursday, Sept. 16. He focused the conversation on a series of devastating reports for Facebook that show, among other things, the existence of VIP user lists that would be exempt from censorship and warnings.
“The reality is Facebook’s just doing business as usual, right? What’s Facebook’s product? We always got to keep going back to that. What’s their product? The reality is their product is outrage, its scandal, its sex. It’s anything that will get you to click,” said Toscano, who became known after his appearance in the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma.”
Earlier this week, Wall Street Journal was the one who reviewed and published two documents that indicate that the social networking giant Facebook is engaging in a series of questionable practices to multiply its profits.
According to the report, Facebook is allegedly allowing its executives to “target millions of VIP users” so that, through a program called XCheck, sometimes known as cross-checking, it allows important users to post content that normally violates the social networking platform’s rules against such things as harassment, incitement to violence and sex, since those users either generate more traction on the network or are in favor of the leftist ideology that underpins the app.
As an example, the WSJ points to the case of Brazilian soccer player Neymar, who in 2019 posted on Facebook nude photos of a woman who had accused him of rape in an attempt to defend himself and which were seen by millions of people before the social network deleted them and decided not to act against the player’s profile.
The documents also note that some of these VIP accounts have without consequence shared content that Facebook’s fact-checkers deemed false, such as that vaccines are deadly, to words falsely attributed to former President Donald Trump calling all asylum seekers “animals.”
Facebook uses mostly automatic mechanisms to “moderate its platform,” and hires external companies responsible for analyzing messages, photos, or videos detected by these systems or reported by users.
In the case of people included in the VIP lists, external moderators do not have access, and they are analyzed by internal staff and, in some cases, senior executives.
Toscano said: “What they’re doing here is they’re identifying the people who they know to be driving the most eyeballs to their platform and henceforth driving them the most money and they’re giving them a pass to say, ‘Hey, you know what, what you’re doing is not right according to our rules, but you’re making us a lot of money and you have the potential to make us a lot more money. So we’re going to let it slide, but just let you know this wasn’t right…It doesn’t shock me at all.”
The second report published by WSJ indicates that Facebook is well aware that its photo-sharing app, Instagram, can be very damaging to the self-esteem of children and teens.
The report cites research funded by Facebook itself, which claims that young users’ use of Instagram over the past three years would have caused 32% to report “feeling bad about their own bodies,” with overuse of the app being the apparent cause.
Toscano said Facebook is “harming” the nation by refusing to take action. “This is catastrophic. They are causing depression, suicide, lifelong impacts on these kids … how do we allow this?” he continued.