FAKEBOOK VIOLATES ITS OWN COMMUNITY STANDARDS

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FACEBOOK APOLOGISES FOR CHEATING: ‘We made a series of errors labelling this piece, and we apologize for any confusion this may have caused. We don’t take our audience’s trust for granted, and ultimately decided that the piece should be taken down entirely to avoid further confusion’.

A Facebook advertisement in Teen Vogue dressed up to look like a news story caused confusion and drew indignation for violating journalistic ethics before the publication deleted it. Published on Jan. 8, 2020, the fake news content bore the headline, ‘How Facebook Is Helping Ensure the Integrity of the 2020 Election.’

The content appeared to be a genuine news story. The scam was arranged in questions and answers with five female Facebook employees.

Archived versions show Facebook’s content carried no disclosure that it was, in fact, an advertisement. Only later was an editor’s notice added: ‘This is sponsored editorial content.’ However, this essential information was later removed.

The story even contained the name of a freelancer who said she did not write it. The by-line was also removed. When someone asked about the article on the verified Teen Vogue Twitter account, the account’s response was ‘idk,’ short for ‘I don’t know.’ That tweet was also deleted.

Finally, the article itself was deleted from the Teen Vogue website. But before that happened, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg muddied the waters by posting it to her own Facebook page without a disclosure that it was paid advertising, along with the statement, ‘Great Teen Vogue piece about five incredible women protecting elections on Facebook.

Ironically, Facebook is repeatedly violating with impunity its own community standards whilst disabling millions of accounts for no reason at all.

Teen Vogue was given a list of questions about the series of events leading to and following the article’s publication. A Teen Vogue spokesperson simply sent this statement: ‘Our questions to Facebook about the article and Sandberg’s comment about it on her Facebook page went unanswered.’

Randy Picht, executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism, said the entire situation could have been avoided if the original story carried a brief disclosure noting that the content was a paid-for advertisement by Facebook and identifying who paid for it.

According to the New York Times, Facebook disabled 1.3 billion users. This is roughly equal to the combined populations of the United States, Russia, Mexico, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Brazil, and the Philippines. Like this story? Share it with a friend. 

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