Misinformation Free-For-All And A ‘Tepid’ Response To Capitol Riots: Here’s What The ‘Facebook Papers’ Allege So Far

According to an extensive collection of documents that a whistleblower from Facebook provided to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook has dropped misinformation controls and only offered a meager response to the growing violence in the Capitol riots of January 6. These documents are the basis of an ongoing Facebook Papers series that exposes major news outlets.

Frances Haugen, a whistleblower and former Facebook employee, testifies at a Senate Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, October 5, in Washington, DC. Getty Images

The Key Facts

According to reports by Bloomberg, CNN and the Associated Press, Facebook removed safeguards that would have prevented the spread of misinformation following the attack on January 6. The company also responded to the violence with a tepid response, which employees criticized as inadequate. According to the Journal and Post, Facebook carried out extensive internal research and made recommendations on how it could stop extremist content spreading. However, executives often declined to implement these steps. According to documents cited by outlets such as Bloomberg, CNN, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times, Facebook's response to the violence started was tepid. In India, Facebook's largest market, hate speech and misinformation have flourished, and many of these incidents go unchecked. Facebook is unable to control a lot content in India as it lacks the capability to moderate and fact-check all posts in India's 22 official languages. This includes Hindi and Bengali which, according to the Post, are the fourth and seventh most spoken languages worldwide. The Journal reports that two Hindu nationalist groups have not been blocked from Facebook, despite their spreading anti-Muslim content and inciting violence. One group was removed due to political sensitivities.

Big Number

87%. According to a Times document, 87% of Facebook's resources are dedicated to fighting misinformation in the United States. Only 13% is left for the rest. According to The Post, Facebook devotes 84% of its global language coverage/remit to the U.S. over other countries. (Facebook refuted these figures to the Times saying that they don't take into account third-party fact-checkers, many of which are located abroad. Documents cited by both outlets show that the platform had problems adequately policing content from India, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.

Important Quote

I struggle to match my values and my employment here. This was a comment that an employee posted on Facebook's internal message board on January 6, according to Bloomberg and the Post. I came here to effect change and improve society. But all I've seen is atrophy, and abdication of responsibility.

Chief Critic

Facebook strongly reacted to the reporting by news outlets and supported the company's efforts against misinformation, extremism and other forms of hate speech. A Facebook spokesperson stated to the AP that the company had invested heavily in technology to locate hate speech in different languages, including Bengali and Hindi. The reduction in hate speech will be half by 2021 as a result of the news outlets' reporting on India. Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Facebook, told the Times that the company is proud to have worked around the 2020 elections. Stone stated that the responsibility for Jan. 6's violence lies with those who attacked our Capitol, and those who encouraged them.

What to Watch

Continue reading. According to Axios, Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, told employees that they should be prepared for worse headlines over the next few days. According to reports, the coordinated effort of approximately two dozen news organizations to report on the Facebook documents was initially scheduled to drop Monday morning. This suggests that more articles will soon be published.

Important Background

Facebook has been criticised for its alleged inability to stop hate speech and misinformation on its platform. However, these allegations have intensified since Frances Haugen, a whistleblower, spoke out on 60 Minutes to testify to Congress about the company's alleged misdeeds. Former member of Facebook's Civic Integrity team, Haugen stated that the company had put its astronomical profits above people. She urged Congress to take action against Facebook. Haugen claimed that Facebook was substantially worse than other social networking companies. Journal first reported the Journal's discovery of the documents Haugen had gathered and given to the SEC. Her lawyers then gave them to news outlets.


The Journal published stories about India and the Jan 6 riot. It also used Haugens documents for stories on Facebooks reported policy exempting VIPs from its rules. They also covered the Journal's knowledge of Instagrams toxic effects, including how a 2018 algorithm update made the platform more angrier, its inability to respond to posts by drug cartels, human traffickers, its failure to police antivaccination content, its plans to attract preteens onto its platforms. Employee doubts about the effectiveness of Facebooks ability to identify multiple accounts and the company's difficulty to find users with multiple accounts.

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Facebook: Jan. 6 violence fuelled anger, regret over missed warning signals (Washington Post).

Internal Alarm, Public Shrugs - Facebook Employees Examine Its Election Role (New York Times).

How Facebook ignored the rest of the globe, encouraging hate speech and violence against India (Washington Post).

Scoop: Facebook executive warns of "more negative headlines" (Axios).

According to Facebook, a whistle-blower has said that the company dropped its guards against political misinformation in a 60 minute interview (Forbes).

Facebook puts Astronomical Profits Above People, Whistle-Blower Told Congress (Forbes).