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Mark Zuckerberg’s Public Facebook post, Oct 5, 2021

I wanted to share a note I wrote to everyone at our company.

Hey everyone: it’s been quite a week, and I wanted to share some thoughts with
all of you.

First, the SEV that took down all our services yesterday was the worst outage
we’ve had in years. We’ve spent the past 24 hours debriefing how we can
strengthen our systems against this kind of failure. This was also a reminder of
how much our work matters to people. The deeper concern with an outage like
this isn’t how many people switch to competitive services or how much money we
lose, but what it means for the people who rely on our services to communicate
with loved ones, run their businesses, or support their communities.

Second, now that today’s testimony is over, I wanted to reflect on the public
debate we’re in. I’m sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to
read because it just doesn’t reflect the company we know. We care deeply about
issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It’s difficult to see coverage that
misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of
us just don’t recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted.

Many of the claims don’t make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why
would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these
important issues in the first place? If we didn’t care about fighting harmful
content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than
any other company in our space — even ones larger than us? If we wanted to
hide our results, why would we have established an industry-leading standard for
transparency and reporting on what we’re doing? And if social media were as
responsible for polarizing society as some people claim, then why are we seeing
polarization increase in the US while it stays flat or declines in many countries
with just as heavy use of social media around the world?

At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety
and well-being. That’s just not true. For example, one move that has been called
into question is when we introduced the Meaningful Social Interactions change to
News Feed. This change showed fewer viral videos and more content from
friends and family — which we did knowing it would mean people spent less time
on Facebook, but that research suggested it was the right thing for people’s well-
being. Is that something a company focused on profits over people would do?

The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for
profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently
tell us they don’t want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don’t
know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or


depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite

But of everything published, I’m particularly focused on the questions raised
about our work with kids. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the kinds of
experiences I want my kids and others to have online, and it’s very important to
me that everything we build is safe and good for kids.

The reality is that young people use technology. Think about how many school-
age kids have phones. Rather than ignoring this, technology companies should
build experiences that meet their needs while also keeping them safe. We’re
deeply committed to doing industry-leading work in this area. A good example of
this work is Messenger Kids, which is widely recognized as better and safer than

We’ve also worked on bringing this kind of age-appropriate experience with
parental controls for Instagram too. But given all the questions about whether this
would actually be better for kids, we’ve paused that project to take more time to
engage with experts and make sure anything we do would be helpful.

Like many of you, I found it difficult to read the mischaracterization of the
research into how Instagram affects young people. As we wrote in our Newsroom
post explaining this: “The research actually demonstrated that many teens we
heard from feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with
the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced. In fact, in
11 of 12 areas on the slide referenced by the Journal — including serious areas
like loneliness, anxiety, sadness and eating issues — more teenage girls who
said they struggled with that issue also said Instagram made those difficult times
better rather than worse.”

But when it comes to young people’s health or well-being, every negative
experience matters. It is incredibly sad to think of a young person in a moment of
distress who, instead of being comforted, has their experience made worse. We
have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these
moments and I’m proud of the work we’ve done. We constantly use our research
to improve this work further.

Similar to balancing other social issues, I don’t believe private companies should
make all of the decisions on their own. That’s why we have advocated for
updated internet regulations for several years now. I have testified in Congress
multiple times and asked them to update these regulations. I’ve written op-eds
outlining the areas of regulation we think are most important related to elections,
harmful content, privacy, and competition.

We’re committed to doing the best work we can, but at some level the right body
to assess tradeoffs between social equities is our democratically elected


Congress. For example, what is the right age for teens to be able to use internet
services? How should internet services verify people’s ages? And how should
companies balance teens’ privacy while giving parents visibility into their activity?

If we’re going to have an informed conversation about the effects of social media
on young people, it’s important to start with a full picture. We’re committed to
doing more research ourselves and making more research publicly available.

That said, I’m worried about the incentives that are being set here. We have an
industry-leading research program so that we can identify important issues and
work on them. It’s disheartening to see that work taken out of context and used to
construct a false narrative that we don’t care. If we attack organizations making
an effort to study their impact on the world, we’re effectively sending the
message that it’s safer not to look at all, in case you find something that could be
held against you. That’s the conclusion other companies seem to have reached,
and I think that leads to a place that would be far worse for society. Even though
it might be easier for us to follow that path, we’re going to keep doing research
because it’s the right thing to do.

I know it’s frustrating to see the good work we do get mischaracterized,
especially for those of you who are making important contributions across safety,
integrity, research and product. But I believe that over the long term if we keep
trying to do what’s right and delivering experiences that improve people’s lives, it
will be better for our community and our business. I’ve asked leaders across the
company to do deep dives on our work across many areas over the next few
days so you can see everything that we’re doing to get there.

When I reflect on our work, I think about the real impact we have on the world —
the people who can now stay in touch with their loved ones, create opportunities
to support themselves, and find community. This is why billions of people love
our products. I’m proud of everything we do to keep building the best social
products in the world and grateful to all of you for the work you do here every

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