Facebook has decided not to publish a report on its most viewed content in the first three months of the year, fearing the data could paint a bad image for the company, The New York Times reported on Friday.
Citing internal emails, The Times said Alex Schultz, Facebook’s chief marketing officer and vice president of analytics, and other executives questioned whether the report’s findings would damage Facebook’s image. . The report showed that the most viewed link in the first quarter was a South Florida Sun Sentinel news article reposted by the Chicago Tribune with the headline “‘Healthy’ doctor died two weeks after receiving COVID vaccine. 19; CDC is investigating why. The Epoch Times, a far-right outlet, was also the 19th most popular page on the platform.
The revelation raises the question of whether Facebook is selectively posting data that helps the company fight concerns that polarizing content is spreading widely on the platform. The Biden administration and other politicians have also urged the social network to do more to tackle COVID-19 misinformation that could make people reluctant to get vaccinated.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment. Andy Stone, company spokesperson, tweeted that “we finally retained it because there were fixes that we had to make”. He also pointed out that the most viewed title came from an authoritative news source. On Saturday, after the Times article was published, Facebook released the report.
Facebook executives have reportedly previously raised concerns over information coming from a Facebook-owned data analytics tool called CrowdTangle, which shows high engagement with right-wing sites. On Wednesday, Facebook released a report for the first time that included the most viewed domains, links, pages and posts in the United States on Facebook during the second quarter, which is between April and June.
The most viewed domain in the second quarter was YouTube. The most popular link was for Player Alumni Resources, and the first page was from Unicef. The most viewed post was a picture of a motivational speaker who asked people about the first words they see in a block of letters.
Company executives said on a press call that Facebook released the data as part of its broader commitment to transparency. But some people, including former Facebook vice president of product marketing Brian Boland, said the report “ignores the transparency it promises” because the data is limited and it finds it. ” unnecessary “.
“After reading the press release and the report itself, I walked away thinking this whole effort was a publicity stunt,” he said in a Medium article.