Facebook researchers are said to have had extensive knowledge that coronavirus and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine existed on the company’s apps, yet did little to combat it let alone share the information with the White House.

Frances Haugen, a Facebook whistleblower presented documents showing how multiple studies were done to determine which types of users were most likely share fake news.

The White House, academics, and lawmakers urged Facebook to make such information public.     

Facebook employees also knew that misinformation regarding the coronavirus was dominating social media platforms, creating echo-chamber-like results and ultimately reinforcing hesitancy about the vaccine. 

Researchers at Facebook were well aware that misinformation about coronavirus was spreading across its platform but did little to prevent it

Facebook researchers were well aware of the spread of misinformation regarding coronavirus on its platform. However, they did little to stop it

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday that it is 'unfortunately not surprising' for the administration to learn that Facebook knew of its problems with vaccine misinformation

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, stated that it was not surprising that the administration learned that Facebook knew of its problems in vaccine misinformation.

The documents reveal that Facebook was diligently investigating how its platforms spread misinformation concerning life-saving vaccines in the midst COVID-19. They also reveal that rank-and-file employees frequently suggested solutions to counter anti-vaccine content, but to no avail. 

Facebook’s internal discussions were revealed in disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen’s legal counsel. 

Some researchers detailed how postings by professional organizations such as the World Health Organization, were flooded by anti-vaccine comments essentially  hijacking the pro-vaccine message and further spreading falsehoods. 

The scale of the problem is known only to Facebook and it is not being shared with the White House, however social media platform was acutely aware that vaccine misinformation was a huge problem on its sites. 

Anti-vaxxers protested on Times Square against vaccination mandates earlier this month

Anti-vaxxers protested in Times Square against mandatory vaccination earlier this month

But when communicating with the public both in testimony before Congress and blog posts, execs stressed the positive response by the social media network and just how many pieces of misinformation it had removed including helping its users to find vaccination points closer to them.       

‘For months I’ve repeatedly requested information on Facebook regarding covid misinformation. These questions include questions about which users post the information, how Facebook amplifies them, how Facebook decides to remove them, and many more,’ Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D.Calif.), told The Washington Post. 

“I asked these questions because policymakers must understand how covid misinformation spreads, and how we can reduce its harmful effects on vaccine Hesitancy and Public Health. Eshoo said that it was whistleblower documents that revealed these issues rather than Facebook releasing them long ago.

Facebook released their own statement about the situation, stressing that the company worked to spread reliable information about coronavirus throughout this pandemic.

The company also noted that vaccine hesitancy among U.S. Facebook user has dropped by 50 percent since January. 

‘There’s no silver bullet to fighting misinformation, which is why we take a comprehensive approach which includes removing more than 20 million pieces of content that break our covid misinformation policies … connecting more than 2 billion people to reliable information about covid-19 and vaccines, and partnering with independent fact-checkers,’ Spokesperson Aasron Simpson said. 

Protesters against vaccine and mask mandates demonstrate near Santa Fe, New Mexico. New documents raise questions about how Facebook responded to anti-vaccine content

Protesters opposed to vaccine and mask mandates demonstrate in Santa Fe, New Mexico. New documents raise concerns about Facebook’s response on anti-vaccine content.

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, stated Wednesday that it is not surprising that the administration learned that Facebook knew of its problems in vaccine misinformation.

“While social media plays a significant role in society it is clear that a whole of society approach is required to end the pandemic,” Guy Rosen, Facebook Vice President, stated in a blog. ‘Facts — not allegations — should help inform that effort.’ 

Psaki stated that platforms continue to amplify antivaccine content over accurate information. That’s the fundamental problem. This is what we continue to witness.    

Facebook ‘set the stage … by allowing vast numbers of conspiracies to be promoted on their platform so people don’t trust the experts,’ Hany Farid, a computer science researcher said.  

These internal documents reveal that Facebook employees were able to see how misinformation was spread.

One post was noted to have racked up 53,000 re-shares and upwards of 3 million impressions after an error with Facebook’s algorithms.   

Rep. Eshoo requested information from the company on how often misinformation was being viewed on the site and whether advertisers were being notified, but the company refused.  

The company replied one month later that it had nothing to say about the questions other than what Mark Zuckerberg had publicly said.

Facebook employees were facing a losing battle in trying to counter misinformation. There was the possibility that any post could go viral at any moment.

Many comments were just as bad as the postings and almost impossible to police.  

One researcher stated, “Vaccine hesitancy among comments is rampant.”  

The company did not interfere in content that was anti-vaccine before 2019, but it did stop recommending pages or groups with misinformation about vaccines.

The company began to crackdown on inaccurate vaccine information during the pandemic.

The company started removing posts that mislead about the safety, side effect, efficacy, or ingredients of the vaccines in December. 

On Thursday, Facebook announced its parent company was rebranding will now go by the name Meta as Mark Zuckerberg tries to distance the social media behemoth from mounting scandals.

Zuckerberg made the announcement during the Facebook Connect augmented reality and virtual reality conference. 

Meta is Zuckerberg’s vision of the company’s transition to shared augmented reality where users can work and play in virtual worlds.

The brand couldn’t have chosen a better time to escape reality. Facebook Inc. will keep its Facebook name but Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp and Instagram, will be renamed Meta. 

It will trade under MVRS from December 1.

Facebook changed its name to Meta in reference to its goal of expanding beyond social media, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday at the Facebook Connect augmented and virtual reality conference

Facebook changed its name to Meta in reference to its goal of expanding beyond social media, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday at the Facebook Connect augmented and virtual reality conference

Employees pulled down a curtain draped over its iconic 'Like' sign outside the company's Silicon Valley headquarters was pulled down to reveal the new branding

Employees tore down the curtain covering the iconic Like’ sign outside of the Silicon Valley headquarters.

It includes a new logo depicting a blue infinity symbol and refers to the 'metaverse', the company's new focus to expand beyond its social media apps

It includes a new logo depicting a blue infinity symbol and refers to the ‘metaverse’, the company’s new focus to expand beyond its social media apps

Haugen, a former product manager at Facebook, left the company with tens to thousands of confidential documents she copied secretly and released to around two dozen news outlets. 

She presented findings on the damage social media caused to young users in testimony before Congress on Tuesday, October 5, and the British Parliament Monday, respectively. One revealed that 13.5% of British teenagers and 6% of American teenagers experiencing suicidal thoughts said that they traced them to Instagram. 

A March 2020 message on an internal message board that was revealed in Haugen’s documents stated that 32% of girls felt worse about their bodies because they used Instagram. 

Another recent claim against the company is that Instagram bombards women and girls who suffer from eating disorders with images and videos of exceedingly thin females and others afflicted with anorexia.

According to internal documents, Instagram’s algorithm curates options according to the preferences and searches of users who are interested in diet, weight loss, or thinness.

In an Instagram experiment, researchers this year used #skinny to search for hashtags. They were then offered to browse accounts that featured dangerously emaciated girls and women. 

Another core finding in the leaked documents was that Facebook staff have reported for years that they are concerned about the company’s failure to police hate speech and that its algorithms flooded users with extremist content and conspiracy theories based on their political beliefs. 

Staff at the social media giant revealed that they were responsible for the January 6 Capitol Riot after giving extremist content a platform. 

“One of our darkest days in the history and practice of democracy and self governance.” One worker said that history would not judge us favorably, while another said that they had been fueling the fire for a long time and shouldn’t be surprised that it’s now out-of-control.

The leaked documents by Haugen also reveal that Facebook could have misled the US Securities and Exchange Commission by failing disclose that its popularity among younger users is declining. 

It is believed to have failed to explain how many of its users are people who have more than one account on its websites. This could mean that the actual number of users could be as low as 11%, compared to what its figures would suggest. 

One trend shows that U.S. teenagers spent 16% less time on Facebook between 2020 and 2021. According to Bloomberg, young adults aged 18 to 29 were spending 5% less time using the app.   

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testifying before British lawmakers on Monday about her concerns over the tech giant's power in the tech and telecomms space. She said, among other things, that Facebook misleads the world by claiming it helps non-English-speaking companies with its technology, when it in fact fuels extremism

Frances Haugen, a Facebook whistleblower, testified before British lawmakers Monday about her concerns about the tech giant’s dominance in the telecomms and tech space. She claimed, among others, that Facebook misleads people by claiming it helps non English-speaking companies with its tech, when in fact it fuels extremism

Meta reported on Monday that despite a torrent of negative whistleblower claims appearing at the beginning of this week in what became known to be the Facebook Papers (now the Facebook Papers), soaring profits for its latest quarter. 

The company reported that its net income rose 17% to $9.19Billion between July and September, thanks to strong advertising revenues. This is an increase of profits of $7.85 million a year prior. 

Meta stock rose more that 1% Tuesday after-hours trading, and rose by more then 3% Thursday afternoon. It then dropped to 1.5% at 5pm. Analyst expectations were exceeded by the 35% increase in revenue for the third quarter to $29.01 billion. 

The company’s name change includes a new logo depicting a blue infinity symbol and refers to the ‘metaverse’, its new focus to expand beyond its social media apps. 

The term “metaverse” could refer to digital spaces that are made more real-lifelike by the use virtual reality or augmented realities.

He said that “our mission remains the same, it is still about bringing people closer together,” and added, “Now, we have a new North Star that will help bring the metaverse back to life.”  

He explained that the word “beyond” in Greek means “beyond” and that it symbolizes that there is always more to be built and a new chapter in the story. 

‘I believe the metaverse is the next chapter of the Internet and it’s the next chapter of our company too,’ he said, adding, ‘While most etch companies focus on how people could connect to technology, we focus on building technology so people could connect with each other.’    

Zuckerberg has suggested previously that the metaverse is the future for the company. He has been talking about the metaverse since July.

The company has made significant investments in virtual reality and augment reality, including Oculus VR headsets and AR glasses.

This buzzword, which was first used in a dystopian novel over three decades ago, is very popular in Silicon Valley. It has been used by other tech companies such as Microsoft. 

Meta announced that it had changed its name and will be releasing Project Cambria next year, a virtual reality headset at a higher price than the $299 Quest 2 headset.

Meta also announced Project Nazare, the codename for its first AR-capable smart glasses. The glasses are still a few years away, the company stated in a blog post. Zuckerberg also noted that while we have made good progress with Nazare’s AR-capable smart glasses, there is still much to do. 

The move to Meta is reminiscent of when Google abruptly renamed itself Alphabet in 2015, making Google a subsidiary and allowing it to become a technology conglomerate.

Meta is set to trade under MVRS from December 1. The company's stock rose more than 1 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday and rose by more than 3% on Thursday

Meta will trade under MVRS starting December 1. The stock rose more that 1 percent Tuesday after-hours trading and rose by more then 3% Thursday

Zuckerberg has previously suggested the metaverse to be future of the company, and has been talking up the metaverse since July

Zuckerberg previously suggested that the metaverse was the future of the company and has been talking about it since July 

In the metaverse, users' avatars move and change their expression in real time with the user

Users’ avatars can change their expressions and move around in the metaverse with the user. 

The burning question is whether Meta’s name is enough to end its public relations nightmares. 

For the company’s independent oversight board, the answer is no. The group issued a statement shortly following the announcement saying that “Changing their name doesn’t change reality: Facebook destroys our democracy and is world’s leading peddler for hate and disinformation.”

It said, “Their meaningless change in name should not distract us from the investigation and regulation as well as real, independent oversight necessary to hold Facebook responsible.”  

The company aims to ‘divert their conversation from the current problems onto the Metaverse which is exciting, futuristic,’ Anne Olderog (a senior partner at Vivaldi with over 20 years of brand strategy experience) told Business Insider.

She called it “brilliant” because “truly nobody understands” metaverse. She added, however, that the public could “definitely see through” things like that at this stage.

According to Laura Ries, a marketing consultant, Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform. She said that they have been accused of creating something that is harmful for people and society.

She compared Meta to BP’s rebranding to ‘Beyond Petroleum’ in order to avoid criticism that it was a threat to the environment. “They can’t walk away with the social network with a new corporate identity and talk about a future metaverse.  

The company has invested heavily in virtual reality and augmented reality, developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and working on AR glasses and wristband technologies

The company has made significant investments in virtual reality and augment reality, including the Oculus VR headsets, as well as developing AR glasses and wristband technologies.

A new drop of documents from Haugen on Monday became known as the Facebook Papers. U.S. officials also announced that Meta had agreed to pay $14.25 million to settle civil claims that the government claimed Meta discriminated against American workers.

And last Tuesday in the U.K., the company was fined $70 million after failing to provide enough important information to the competition regulator investigating the firm’s takeover of GIF sharing platform Giphy. 

The acquisition was investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority of Britain (CMA) in June 2013. This probe was launched shortly after the deal was announced. It was initiated due to concerns about a’substantial decrease in competition’. 

Facebook responded to the CMA’s decision by saying: “We strongly disagree with their unfair decision to punish Facebook because of its best effort compliance approach, which was ultimately approved by the CMA.” We will review the CMA decision and evaluate our options.

Facebook also acknowledged that its users could share information about illegal entry to countries and people smuggled onto its social media platforms.

The admission comes after Arizona AttorneyGeneral Mark Brnovich requested that the Department of Justice investigate the social media giant for its ‘facilitation of illegal immigration into the United States’. 

The California-based behemoth could gain from the move, which could help its reputation, which has taken hit after hit in recent times. The company was already facing many scandals before the controversy over the Facebook Papers. 

It was accused of helping spread misinformation during the 2016 US Presidential Election. This prompted a series of congressional hearings, policy changes, including the introduction third-party fact-checkers, and greater transparency in political advertising.

Facebook was fined $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission in 2019 for allowing 87,000,000 US profiles to have their data used by British firm Cambridge Analytica to create political advertising.

Some of the advertising was used in 2016 to support the campaign of former president Donald Trump.  

Zuckerberg didn’t pay attention to any scandals or Facebook Papers while announcing his new name. He was focused solely upon Meta’s goals moving forward.  

Roblox, a popular children’s game, is already familiar with the metaverse. It describes itself as a “metaverse company”. Epic Games’ Fortnite is also part of the metaverse.

The metaverse is “going to be an important focus, and I believe that this is just going be a major part of the next chapter in the way that the internet develops after mobile internet,” Zuckerberg stated to The Verge earlier in the year.

“And it’s going be the next major chapter for our company too. We’re really doubling down in that area.”

Meta announced that it would be hiring 10,000 people to help build the metaverse.