Netflix recently launched its latest docudrama that is designed to uncover the strategy behind Facebook’s rise to power, in The Social Dilemma. The documentary takes square aim at the various negative effects that Facebook is said to have had on politics, mental health, and the propagation of misinformation. Now, Facebook has issued a seven-part statement denouncing the docudrama for sensationalizing the problems with social media.
“We should have conversations about the impact of social media on our lives. But ‘The Social Dilemma‘ buries the substance in sensationalism. Rather than offer a nuanced look at technology, it gives a distorted view of how social media platforms work to create a convenient scapegoat for what are difficult and complex societal problems.”
“The film’s creators do not include insights from those currently working at the companies or any experts that take a different view to the narrative put forward by the film. They also don’t acknowledge-critically or otherwise-the efforts already taken by companies to address many of the issues they raise. Instead, they rely on commentary from those who haven’t been on the inside for many years.”
The discussion surrounding Facebook’s role in modern society, and the measures it has failed to take to prevent harm done through its platform has been growing louder in recent times, so much so that the government has had to step in to address the issues directly to the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg. Netflix is not the first studio to make a documentary about Facebook’s problems, but their work has sparked strong interest among netizens, so much so that the social media giant had to step in with an official rebuttal.
In the seven points featured in the rebuttal, Facebook contests Netflix’s claims that they allow misinformation to run rampant on their platform while making no effort to check it’s flow. The company claims that it works with experts from around the world in a variety of fields from mental health to linguistics in order to make sure its content is as safe for consumption as possible. Interestingly, when it comes to one of the most notorious Facebook practices of studying user behavior algorithms to provide individual-specific content, the company pointed out that every other internet business does the same thing, including Netflix.
“Facebook uses algorithms to improve the experience for people using our apps-just like any dating app, Amazon, Uber, and countless other consumer-facing apps that people interact with every day. That also includes Netflix, which uses an algorithm to determine who it thinks should watch ‘The Social Dilemma‘ film, and then recommends it to them. This happens with every piece of content that appears on the service. Portraying algorithms as ‘mad’ may make good fodder for conspiracy documentaries, but the reality is a lot less entertaining.”
Facebook goes on to claim that it has acknowledged that it made mistakes in the past, but the docudrama does not cover the steps the company took to rectify those mistakes and tried to ensure that propaganda issued by certain users does not infect the rest of the social media platform’s community or lead to negative effects on politics or the rest of society. The company ended its statement by reiterating its commitment to doing better for its users in the future.
“We know our systems aren’t perfect and there are things that we miss. But we are not idly standing by and allowing misinformation or hate speech to spread on Facebook.”