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Media Trends Monday: The Facebook Papers

The Facebook papers. Have you seen them? Welcome back to Media Trends Monday, a series where we relay trends we’re seeing in today’s media landscape and examine how they may affect your business and marketing efforts.  

This week’s key points:
  • Facebook realized that hate speech on their platforms helped them financially
  • Facebook favored profits over mitigating misinformation and hate speech
  • Your course of action will depend on factors like brand and audience
What happened?

We at CCF have been keeping a close eye on these and making note of the news and how it affects the industry. So what’s going on? If you haven’t had the chance to look into this story,  

Facebook Papers

Facebook (now known as Meta) has memos or “papers” documenting instances of bad behavior on their platforms, but has done nothing, because of the value those behaviors bring to the company. To make a long story short, Facebook prioritized profits over human safety.

How did it happen?

The Facebook papers revealed that the social media giant noted that engagement had been declining over the years. That was a particularly bad omen for Zuckerberg and the shareholders because a lack of engagement caps the amount of money Facebook can make. 

So they did some market testing, and Facebook realized that controversial topics, ideas that get people angry and revved up, proved to be the most engaging content on their platform. To no surprise, they were getting the most reactions, comments, and shares. 

So by perpetuating hate speech and allowing for false information to run unchecked in users’ news feeds, Facebook was essentially getting more revenue from the time people spent online through those engagements. To add to the fuel, celebrities and political figures were provided more leeway in what they posted, because the likelihood of engaging audiences on their platform is higher than your average Joe. 

Ads that spread false information continued to spread, especially in countries outside the US. Content that is shared in a different language can get away with more, simply because Facebook hasn’t invested enough to understand “foreign” languages.

The company has the power to shut hate speech off; it has the power to take off the “share” button so that false information doesn’t spread; it has the power to block popular and controversial figures from their accounts; it’s an international business that has the capacity to read and understand any given language; yet why haven’t they taken those measures? 

It’s a lot to take in. This is a matter of ethics and security, and without hard legislation, social conglomerates operate in a wild west of sorts. Luckily, now that the facebook papers have been made public, Government entities are taking action.

How does it all affect your brand?

Given all this information, is advertising on Meta platforms right for your brand? Like it or not, Facebook and Instagram continue to garner a massive user base globally. Facebook and Instagram are heavily used by BIPOC audiences, so brands looking to reach those communities will need to keep that in mind. 

Our suggestion if you choose to stay on Meta platforms is to have a strong creative message that represents the truth in your brand, to stand out from untrue and/or hateful messages. If your messages aren’t being delivered to Meta’s platforms, you may be missing out on reaching the 1.93B daily active users of their platforms who may be part of your audience.

If you still find it hard to decide whether to work with Meta and its entities, we at CCF recommend you fall back to your brand. What does your brand value? What does it stand for? Just recognize that not participating in Meta’s platforms will affect your KPI’s, so business plans should reflect those changes. You know your business, we know your audience. Let’s talk.


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Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you for the next installment of Media Trends Monday! Have a great week.

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