Facebook misled investors about struggles maintaining young users, whistleblower says
Facebook misled investors about struggles maintaining young users, whistleblower says

By Elizabeth Fadder, Breaking News Reporter

Facebook is struggling to maintain young users and misled investors about the extent of its problems with user demographics, according to whistleblower allegations.

Internal company documents provided by the whistleblower, Frances Haugen, present findings that young adults engage less with Facebook and view it as an “outdated network,” the Associated Press reported . The social network is also described as “boring, misleading and negative.”

Haugen alleged that Facebook “has misrepresented core metrics to investors and advertisers” by downplaying its difficulties with younger people, according to Bloomberg.

The social media juggernaut cites competition with other social media apps such as Snapchat and TikTok as an explanation for the decline of young users on the site.

Other data show younger audiences are finding Facebook to lack relevancy and to be a place more geared toward older users.

“All social media companies want teens to use their services. We are no different,” Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said . “That’s why we’re continuing to build new products and features that are entertaining and help teens, their friends, and family stay connected to each other.”

Facebook was recently thrown into a scandal after Haugen, a 37-year-old whistleblower and former product manager for Facebook, revealed internal documents about how the company operated. The documents were given by her lawyer to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” Haugen explained during an interview on 60 Minutes.

After resigning from the company in May, Haugen provided a trove of papers to the Wall Street Journal, which exposed a wide variety of wrongdoing within the company, making the case that it put making a profit before the safety and health of its users.

As Facebook began to expand user growth in countries like India, the company struggled to moderate against hate content on users’ news feeds, the documents indicate. Employees from Facebook created a fake account to put themselves in the shoes of these users. The fake account quickly became filled with posts of “anti-Muslim hate speech,” according to the Washington Post.

“Ultimately, it rests with Mark and whatever his prerogative is — and it has always been to grow, to increase his power and his reach,” Jennifer Grygiel, a communications professor at Syracuse University told the Associated Press.

Despite the release of the papers, the company has denied any wrongdoing.

“At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That’s just not true,” Zuckerberg said in an Oct. 5 Facebook post.

Facebook recently announced plans to rebrand the company name while keeping the Facebook name for the social media website and app, according to reports. The name change is allegedly set to occur on Oct. 28 during the company’s annual Connect conference.

The Washington Examiner reached out to Facebook for a comment but did not receive a response.

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