Facebook Reportedly Tested Showing Users Positive News Stories About It

According to the New York Times, Facebook launched a project to display more positive stories about its platform on users' News Feeds. This was to repair their reputation.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies in front of a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce... [+] hearing held in 2018. Getty Images

The Key Facts

Project Amplify was a clandestine campaign that marked the first time Facebook used its News Feed (the most popular feature on the platform) to improve its public image. According to sources, the New York Times reported that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, approved the project in August. However, other Facebook officials were stunned when the idea was presented at a January meeting. According to the newspaper, Facebook tested the initiative in three U.S. locations using Quick Promotes. This system pushed stories such as Facebooks Latest Innovations 2021 that detailed how the platform was seeking renewable energy in News Feed posts featuring Facebooks logo. It is unclear how much Facebook promoted Project Amplify, for how long or how many people saw the posts in their News Feeds. Forbes reached out to Facebook for comment, but Joe Osborne, a spokesperson for Facebook, said that the posts were tests for an infoal unit clearly identified as being from Facebook. He explained that the content was similar to other tech companies' corporate responsibility initiatives.

Important Background

According to the Times, Project Amplify is part a larger strategy by Facebook to improve its image. The Wall Street Journal published a series last week based on company documents. It details shady aspects in Facebook operations such as a secret system that exempts high-profile users who break platform rules. Years of internal research also show that the company is well aware of the psychological damage that Instagram can cause to young women, despite its history of downplaying this issue. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, downplayed Facebook's role in allowing the rioters to organize the U.S. Capitol Siege. According to data from the Program on Extremism of the George Washington University, Facebook was the most frequently cited social media platform according to Justice Department charges. Over 500 brands boycotted Facebook advertising last year amid concerns that Facebook wasn't doing enough to combat hate speech. Target, Ford and Adidas were the major companies that boycotted Facebook advertising. However, experts estimate that Facebook suffered a small revenue loss due to the boycott.