Facebook responds to criticism over well-being, saying it is spending $5bn on the issue this year and that Instagram makes young people ‘feel better’
Facebook has responded to criticism of its safety and well-being practices, saying it is “spending and doing more than any other tech company” on the issue.
The head of the company’s global business group also said Instagram, which Facebook owns, makes young people “feel better”.
The firm, which changed its corporate name to Meta last week, has faced renewed criticism after a former product manager leaked internal documents.
Frances Haugen accused Facebook of putting profits before safety when meeting with politicians in the US and the UK last month.
She told MPs last week that Facebook’s safety teams were under-resourced because the company was “unwilling to accept even little slivers of profit being sacrificed for safety”.
She added that Instagram was “more dangerous than other forms of social media”.
Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president of global business for Facebook, responded that Facebook is spending $5 billion (£3.7bn) this year on “protecting people’s safety, data and their privacy on our platforms”.
She told Radio 1 Newsbeat the company employs more than 40,000 people in these areas and is “spending and doing more than any other tech company”.
Mendelsohn said Facebook was about “making sure that people feel good” about their experience of its services.
She said the company makes its income from advertising, and advertisers “don’t want their ads next to harmful content”.
“The vast majority of people that are coming onto our platform are having great experiences, they’re connecting with their friends”, she said.
Facebook puts young users’ safety first, she said, adding that Instagram makes young people “feel better”.
“What young people are telling us is that the time that they spend on Instagram actually makes them feel better, especially if they’re people that are struggling with things like loneliness,” Mendelsohn said.
The Wall Street Journal reported that internal research provided to the paper by Haugen suggested Instagram had a harmful effect on teenagers, particularly teen girls.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has said such reports are a “coordinated effort” to “paint a false picture” of the company.
The company told staff last week not to destroy internal documents for legal reasons, after Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell called on the firm to preserve all documents related to Haugen’s 5 October testimony before Congress.
Mendelsohn also said the name Meta reflects a “metaverse” future that will “let people connect, find communities and grow businesses”.
A long-time advertising executive, Mendelsohn has also served as Facebook’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa since 2013.