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More exciting than TV series: How does Facebook respond to the crisis with the "three abuses" approach?

via:博客园     time:2018/11/16 17:12:16     readed:803


The New York Times recently published an article on how Facebook responded to the wave of attacks after Facebook’s use of Facebook to interfere with the US election. This process is more exciting than the TV series. Allies, opponents, patrons and thugs are on the scene. Some people in the team are playing their own small abacus. The following is the original:

One day in September 2017, at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., top management gathered at the CEO's Zuckerberg glass curtain wall meeting room.

At this meeting, COO Sandberg was worried.

At the time, Facebook engineers had discovered suspicious activity related to Russia on their platform (this is an early signal that Russia intervened in the 2016 US election campaign) for more than a year. The US Congress and federal investigators are approaching some evidence that may be implicated in Facebook. The company seems to be facing a disaster, but it is not this that angers Sandberg.

What angered her was Alex ·, head of social networking security at Facebook; Alex Stamos told the company's board members the day before that Facebook had not controlled the Russians. Then Sandberg and Zuckerberg were rigorously questioned by the board.

Sandberg seems to think that he was betrayed by Stamos.

“You threw us under the bus! ” She shouted at Stamos at that meeting.

This conflict has opened the prelude to Zuckerberg, Sandberg and the cause they have created together.

Little-known "three abuses" means

In just over a decade, Facebook has more than 2.2 billion users. It has become a global state, reshaping political movements, advertising, and everyday life around the world.

In the process, Facebook's personal data repository has become one of the largest treasure trove in history, full of photos, news and “Like” data, driving the company into the Fortune 500.

However, as more and more obvious evidence shows that Facebook’s power can also be used to disrupt elections, carry out viral campaigns, and stimulate hate campaigns around the world, Zuckerberg and Sandberg’s days are not so good. It is.

They turned a blind eye to the warning signs and tried to hide these signals outside the public eye.

The company's current and former executives say that during the critical period of the past three years, their attention has been distracted by their own projects, and security and policy decisions have been such important things that they have delegated authority to their subordinates.

Last spring, Facebook users discovered that the platform leaked their privacy during the period of rapid expansion, and tens of millions of personal information was used by a political data company associated with President Trump. In response, Facebook tried to shift responsibility to cover up the severity of the incident.

When it’s not covered, Facebook starts to do some small moves.

Although Zuckerberg made a public apology last year, Sandberg hosted a fierce lobbying campaign to attack those who criticized Facebook, transferring public anger to competitors and avoiding harsh Supervision. Facebook hired a Republican opposition research company to smash radical protesters, saying they were liberal financiers George · George Soros's water army.

It also uses business relationships to persuade a Jewish civil rights organization to discredit those who criticize Facebook from having “anti-Semitism” tendencies.

In Washington, some of Facebook’s allies intervened, including Senator Charles Schumer, the leader of the Democratic Party in the Senate. Sandberg began to please the legislators who were hostile to Facebook and tried to remove the reputation of Facebook's Bay Area Liberal Base Camp.

Facebook is badly hurt

Most of Zuckerberg and Sandberg’s response to Facebook’s crisis have not been reported before. The reporter of The New York Times wrote this article after interviewing more than 50 people.

These include current and former Facebook executives and employees, parliamentarians and government officials, as well as lobbyists and congressional staff.

Most people are reluctant to be named, either because they have signed a confidentiality agreement, have no access to the reporter, or are worried about retaliation.

Facebook refused to let Zuckerberg and Sandberg comment on it. A spokesperson for the company acknowledged in a statement that Facebook has made slow progress in meeting the challenges, but has made progress in fixing problems with the platform.

The statement said: “This is a tough time for Facebook, and our entire management team is focused on solving the problems we face. While these issues are difficult, we work very hard to ensure that users see the benefits of our products and protect the community from harmful actors. ”

Even so, user trust in Facebook has been hit hard and the growth of the platform has slowed.

Regulators and law enforcement officials in the US and Europe are investigating the activities of Facebook and Cambridge Analytics. Cambridge Analytics, a political data company that has worked with Trump's 2016 campaign, may be fined.

The Trump administration and legislators have begun drafting a national privacy law proposal that may take years to refine, and Facebook's data-hungry business model is promising and is heavily influenced by the bill.

Elliot Schrage, former vice president of global communications marketing and public policy at Facebook, said in an interview: "We didn't see it, didn't try to imagine what was hidden behind the corner. ”

Endurance of two helmsmen

What are the priorities of Facebook? After controversy over this issue, 34-year-old Zuckerberg and 49-year-old Sandberg are still at the helm of the company, and Stamos and other well-known executives have left.

Zuckerberg controls 60% of the voting shares, and many of the directors are approved by him. But last year he was asked many times whether he should resign as CEO.

Every time he replied loudly, "No. ”

Zuckerberg founded Facebook during his studies at Harvard University in 2004. Three years ago, he was acclaimed for his extraordinary achievements.


Sandberg is a former Clinton government official who worked at Google. Her “Step Forward”, published in 2013, became an idol of feminists.

Like other executives in the technology industry, Zuckerberg and Sandberg see Facebook as a force for a good society.

Facebook's lofty goals are even printed on the documents it has filed with the SFC: “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. ”

But with the development of Facebook, hate speech, bullying, and other “toxic content” on this platform have also grown.

When researchers and activists in Myanmar, India, Germany and elsewhere warned that Facebook has become a tool for government advocacy and ethnic cleansing, the company has largely taken a deaf ear.

& ldquo;Do not poke a bear”

Facebook positions itself as a platform, not a publisher.

Responsible for the content posted by the user and reviewing the user's behavior, which is not only expensive but also complicated. Many Facebook executives are worried that any such effort will be counterproductive.

At this time Trump began to run for president. He said that some immigrants and refugees are dangerous to the United States. In December 2015, he issued a statement on Facebook requesting “complete and complete closure” of some people's access to the United States.

Trump's "fired speech" was widely condemned by the Democratic Party and some famous Republicans, but was posted on Facebook more than 15,000 times, showing the site's ability to spread racist sentiment.

People familiar with the matter said that Zuckerberg was also taken aback. Zuckerberg previously helped create a non-profit organization dedicated to immigration reform.

He asked Sandberg and other executives whether Trump violated Facebook's terms of service.

This problem is unusual because Zuckerberg usually focuses on a broader range of technical issues, and politics is Sandberg's field of work.


(Illustration: Zuckerberg and Joel · Kaplan)

Sandberg is a Democrat. In 2010, she recruited her former colleague Marne Levine to serve as Facebook's chief representative in Washington. A year later, after the Republican control of the House of Representatives, Sandberg recruited another friend, Joel Kadland, in Washington. Kaplan is a Republican who has worked with Sandberg on Harvard University. He has a wealth of contacts and has served in the George · W· Bush administration.

Some inside Facebook believe that the attacks launched by Trump in 2015 can be used to launch an event to rectify the issue of hate speech on the platform.

But Sandberg’s husband died in a few months, when she had just returned to Facebook to work, and she handed it over to Schlager and Monica · Monika Bickert. Bickert was a prosecutor and Sandberg was recruited as the head of Facebook's global policy.

Sandberg also asked the Washington office — — especially Kaplan.

In a video conference call between Silicon Valley headquarters and Washington, three managers carefully analyzed the issue. They studied Trump's accounts and posts in violation of the company's terms of service.

According to people familiar with the matter, Kaplan believes that Trump is an important public figure, and bans on his account or deleting his post may be seen as impeding freedom of speech. He also said that this may also trigger conservative counterattacks.

“Don’t poke a bear,” Kaplan warned.

Poor communication, self-proclaimed subordinates

For a year, Russian agents hacked and harassed the Democratic Party. In the last months of the Trump campaign, this activity has intensified: thousands of e-mails from prominent Democrats and party officials have been made public.

Facebook did not openly talk about any issues on its platform. But in the spring of 2016, an expert in the company who was familiar with Russian cyber warfare found some situations to be worrying. He contacted his boss, Stamos.

As a result, the team of Stamos found that Russian hackers seem to be testing the Facebook account associated with the presidential campaign.

A few months later, as Trump and Hillary became more and more in the competition, the team also found that some Facebook accounts linked to Russian hackers were sending messages to reporters to share information in stolen emails.


(Illustration: Facebook General Counsel Colin · Stretch)

Stamos is 39 years old and he told the results of these investigations to Facebook General Counsel Colin · Colin Stretch.

At the time, Facebook had no policies on false information and no dedicated resources to search for false information.

Stamos made his own claim and asked a group to carefully monitor the scale of Russian activities on Facebook.

When someone said that the fake news on Facebook helped Trump win the election, Zuckerberg publicly laughed at this statement. Stamos was surprised to find that CEO Zuckerberg did not seem to know the results of his team's investigation, so in December 2016 he found Zuckerberg, Sandberg and other top executives of Facebook.


(Illustration: Facebook COO Sandberg)

Sandberg is very angry. She said that investigating Russian activities without approval increased the company's legal risk. Other executives asked Stamos why they didn't tell them about it early.

In any case, Sandberg and Zuckerberg decided to expand the scope of Stamos's work and set up a team called Project P (P stands for propaganda, meaning “publicity machine”), responsible for researching Facebook. False news on the site.

Concealing the problem, pretending to be nothing

In January 2017, the team found that Stamos had only learned a small part of Russian activities, and Project P wanted to make their findings public. But Kaplan and other Facebook executives have expressed opposition.

The official findings of US intelligence agencies have shocked Washington — Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an activity to help Trump win elections. Kaplan said that if Facebook further reveals their findings, then Republicans will accuse Facebook of being a platform for the Democratic Party. If Facebook deletes the fake pages of Russians, ordinary Facebook users may also be angry because they are being cheated. Kaplan said that even his own mother-in-law focused on the Russian-manipulated Facebook page.

Sandberg supports Kaplan's comments. Zuckerberg did not participate in this discussion because for most of 2017, he was conducting a nationwide “listening tour” & mdash;— feeding cows in Wisconsin, in Minnesota and Somalia The refugees have dinner together.

The survey document was released in April, and there is no mention of the word “Russia”.

Sandberg’s subordinates have taken a similar approach in Washington. At the time, the Senate began to conduct its own investigations under the leadership of Senator Richard · Richard Burr and Mark · Mark Warner.

Throughout the spring and summer of 2017, Facebook officials have repeatedly diluted the concerns of Senate investigators about the company, while publicly claiming that Russia did not carry out any major actions on Facebook.

When I can’t help, the board is angry.

But within Facebook, employees are increasingly finding that ads, pages, and groups are related to Russians.

By August 2017, Facebook executives thought that things could not be stopped.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg agreed to publish some of the results of the survey and plan to post a post on the day of the company's quarterly board meeting on September 6, 2017.

After Stamos and his team drafted the post, Sandberg and her deputies thought it should not be so specific and should be general.

She and Zuckerberg also asked Stamos and Stretch to report to the Board of Auditors, chaired by Erskine Bowles, who had worked at the White House.

Stamos and Stretch’s report is more detailed than planned, and they warned that Facebook may find more evidence that Russians are interfering with the election.

Bowers has many years of experience in Washington and can anticipate how the legislator might react to it.

He began to question the two reporters, and he swears from time to time.

Why did it take Facebook so long to discover the activities of Russians? Why have you told Facebook's directors about this now?

Later that day, the entire board of directors gathered in the room reserved for sensitive meetings at the company headquarters. Bowers began to question Sandberg and Zuckerberg.

Sandberg looked very upset and she apologized. Zuckerberg was expressionless. He mentioned technical repairs and said that three people knew.

Later that day, the company’s post was sent out. It only disclosed that Russian agents spent about $100,000 doing about 3,000 ads. $100,000 is not a big buck.

Being attacked by left and right, forced to acknowledge the facts

But soon, the media released a survey of Russians' deep activities on Facebook —— Russian intelligence agencies used fake accounts to post e-mails stolen from the Democrats.

This immediately angered the Democrats. Originally, the two parties had a political consensus. Don't pull in Facebook and other big technology companies. Now the consensus has broken down.

Republicans have been worried about Facebook's censorship of conservative views. They say that the allegations about Trump and the Russians are unfounded, a conspiracy, and Facebook is helping the conspiracy.

Democrats who have been on the side of Silicon Valley for a long time on immigration and other issues now blame Trump's victory on Facebook's tolerance for false information and fraudulent activities.

A few weeks later, Facebook finally agreed to hand over the Russian post to Congress.

In October 2017, Facebook was forced to revise its public statement twice, eventually acknowledging that nearly 126 million users had seen Russian posts.

Facebook enters combat

In the same month, Warner and Amy & Middot; Amy Klobuchar proposed legislation to force Facebook and other Internet companies to disclose who would buy political ads on their websites —— this would greatly expand federal regulation of technology companies range.

Klobchar wrote on her own Facebook page: “It's time for Facebook to let all of us see the Russians buying advertisements in rubles during the last election. ”

Facebook enters the battle state. A few days after the announcement of the bill, Facebook hired Warner’s former chief of staff, Luke · Luke Albee to conduct lobbying. Kaplan's team began to play a bigger role, and they regularly check words or phrases in Facebook press releases that might make conservatives unhappy.

Sandberg also contacted Klobchar. She had a very good relationship with the senator and had once joined each other. Klobchar’s chief of staff had previously worked at Sandberg’s charitable foundation.

Shortly after the ad disclosure bill was introduced, Sandberg complained that Klobchar attacked Facebook. However, after Cloboucha criticized Facebook's wave, between November and February, she never mentioned Facebook in her post.

A spokesperson for Klobchar told the media that Facebook’s lobbying did not undermine her commitment to the company’s accountability.

In October 2017, Facebook also expanded its partnership with Washington-based consultancy Definers Public Affairs, which was originally hired by Facebook to monitor news coverage of Facebook.

Founded by veteran presidential politics veterans, the specialty is to apply political campaign strategies to corporate public relations. —— Large telecom companies and aggressive hedge fund managers use this approach, but technology companies use less.

Definers established an office in Silicon Valley earlier that year, led by Tim & Middot; Tim Miller. Miller is a former spokesperson for Jeb · Bush (brother of President George W. Bush), advocating "election-style" opposition research. In an interview, he said that the goal of a technology company should be "to make it appear to be related to its own company when the positive content is released, and to make it appear to be related to competitors when the negative content is released."

Facebook quickly adopted this strategy. In November 2017, Facebook supported a proposal called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which was designed to allow Internet companies to take responsibility for sex trading ads on their websites.

Want to win first, but once again in trouble

In March of this year, the media is preparing to publish a survey report on how Facebook uses user data to classify US voters. A few days before the report was released, the media provided evidence to Facebook that a copy of the improperly obtained Facebook data still exists, although Cambridge analysts and others had promised to delete it earlier.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg and the deputy opened a meeting to determine how to deal with it. They decided to pre-announce the matter and said in a statement released on Friday night that Facebook has banned Cambridge Analytics from using its platform. Executives feel that pre-emptive messaging can reduce its impact.

But this time they are wrong. The incident caused anger around the world and led to litigation and official investigations in Washington, London and Brussels. Although the investigation into Russia has evolved into a partisan struggle, both Democrats and Republicans are very angry with the Cambridge company scandal. In Silicon Valley, other technology companies have begun to use this to promote their brand.

Apple CEO Tim · Cook said in an interview with MSNBC: "We don't plan to buy and sell your personal life. We regard privacy as a human right, a civil liberty.  quo; (Cook's criticism angered Zuckerberg, Zuckerberg later ordered the Facebook management team to use only Android phones, Android users far more than Apple iOS.)

Facebook is in trouble again. Executives quietly put an internal communication campaign called “We Get It”, which was intended to assure employees that the company is committed to returning to the right track in 2018.

“The strategy of smashing water”

Facebook continues to carry out activities. Kaplan persuaded Sandberg to let the former Federal Communications Commission chairman and Bush administration veteran Kevin · Kevin Martin lead the company's lobbying activities in the United States. Facebook also expanded its partnership with Definers.

A conservative news site called NTK Network posted dozens of articles criticizing Google and Apple for malicious business activities. One of the articles said that Cook was hypocritical. Apple collected a lot of data from users and even accused Facebook of privacy issues. Another article is trying to downplay the influence of Russians on Facebook.

This NTK is an organization of Definers. Many of the articles above were written by Definers staff or Americas Rising, the political opposition research division of Definers, to help customers attack their opponents. Although NTK has not many readers, its content is often reprinted by popular media such as Breitbart.

Miller acknowledged that there is no direct competition between Facebook and Apple. He said that Definers's campaign for Apple was funded by another technology company, but Facebook has been "attacking" Apple, because Cook's criticism made Facebook very upset.

When Miller was drinking at a bar in Oakland, California last month, Facebook said it would be happy to “give the water” for privacy issues.

But on the surface, Facebook still looks more modest. Zuckerberg also agreed to go to Congress to testify. Facebook also launched an ad campaign called “Here Together” to apologize to users.

A few days before Zuckerberg’s testimony in Congress in April, Facebook announced support for Klobchar’s “honest advertising” bill and preemptively disclosed the names of some political advertising buyers. It also informs users that their data is improperly "harvest" by Cambridge Analytical.

Zuckerberg's shortcomings, Sandberg's strengths

Before Zuckerberg's testimony, after intensive guidance and preparation, the company's communications team believed that he could effectively answer difficult questions at the April hearing.

But they are also worried that Zuckerberg’s performance will be too mechanical.

Indeed, Zuckerberg did not play his political instinct very well.

During a hearing break, Zuckerberg and the House Energy and Commerce Committee leader Greg Walden spoke, saying that the Democrats' tough attitude toward Facebook surprised him.

Walden was shocked. He realized that Zuckerberg still didn't understand how angry everyone was with Facebook.

Sandberg had not publicly talked about the company at the time. But within Facebook, her approach has also begun to cause criticism from some people.

Some colleagues feel that Sandberg is willing to pay for Facebook in order to maintain his personal image.

At a company gathering, a friend told Sandberg that if Facebook could not effectively get rid of these scandals, then Facebook's role in spreading hatred and panic would also undermine her personal influence.

As a result, Sandberg began to pay more attention to his personal image, fully demonstrating what he has, and the advantages that Zuckerberg sometimes lacks. She used the formerly accumulated Democratic resources as a backing and tried to relieve the Republicans' doubts. These Republicans complained that Facebook's political views on its workforce are more sensitive than the political views of the leaders of the committee.

After Sandberg went to Washington, he sent a personal thank-you letter to the legislator and others she met.

At the same time, Facebook is continuing to find ways to transfer criticism to competitors. In July, after media disclosure Facebook shared user data with device manufacturers, but did not inform legislators, the company's executives organized events in Washington to communicate with legislators. One of the strategies they took during this time was to drag YouTube and other social media platforms into the water, saying that Google also reached a similar data sharing agreement.

The right enemy left, triggering the resonance of the conservative camp.

At that time, Facebook's sharpest opponents came from the left, and some activists and policy experts had begun to call for the dismantling of Facebook.

In July, a group called Freedom from Facebook sent people to the hearing of the House Judicial Committee. They held up a sign showing an octopus holding the earth with two heads of Sandberg and Zuckerberg (both Jews).

A Facebook administrator quickly called ADL, a prominent Jewish civil rights organization, to get their attention to the logo. Since the end of 2017, Facebook and other technology companies have been working with ADL to combat anti-Semitism and hate speech.

That afternoon, ADL issued a warning on its Twitter account:

Facebook also asked Definers to attack more prominent opponents, such as Soros. Mainstream conservatives have long regarded Mr Soros as a thorn. This summer, a month after the House hearing, Definers circulated a research paper to reporters saying that Soros was

Soros has his own target attribute. At the World Economic Forum in January, he criticized Facebook and Google for being monopolistic threats.

Definers urged journalists to investigate the financial relationship between the Soros family or his charity and Freedom from Faceboo, such as Color of Change, an online racial justice organization, and an organization founded by Soros's son. Definers's research paper also highlights the irrelevant criticism of these organizations to Trump.

Backing up, suggesting interest relationship

Facebook also has a backing in the Senate: Democratic leader Schumer. This person has been working for a long time to promote Silicon Valley's interests in the regulation of commercial UAVs and patent reform. In the 2016 election, Schumer raised more money from Facebook employees than any other congressman.

Schumer also has personal contacts with Facebook: his daughter, Alison, has worked for the company since she graduated from college and is now a marketing manager at Facebook's New York office.

In July, when Facebook's troubles seemed so big that it could lose billions of dollars in market value, Schumer went to Warner. At that time, in the Congress, the most resolute attitude to Facebook survey was Warner.

People familiar with the situation said Schumer told Warner to leave it alone and advised Warner to look for ways to work with Facebook instead of hurting it. The person familiar with the situation also said that as Schumer made efforts to protect Facebook, its lobbyists were also taking simultaneous action.

Schumer declined to comment on the matter. One Senate aide said Schumer wanted Warner to understand that Facebook was also useful in addressing the right-wing's deliberate disclosure of false information and disruption of elections, as well as protecting consumer privacy.

Create conditions for competitors to get negative news.

One morning in late summer, workers put opaque stickers on the conference room windows of Facebook's Washington office. Soon after, a security guard was outside the door. This is unusual because Facebook is proud of its open office layout and transparent glass curtain wall conference rooms.

But Sandberg needs to prepare for the hearings of the Senate Intelligence Committee. For Facebook, this battle is critical, and her assistants want to be sure of everything.

In the room, the assistants tried to prepare for the hearing. They produced a brochure that covered almost every question Sandberg might be asked, and hired a former White House lawyer who trained company executives.

Facebook lobbyists have tried to persuade intelligence committee lawmakers not to ask Sandberg questions about privacy, Cambridge Analytics and censorship. Burr agreed. He didn't want a circus-like atmosphere at the hearing, so the day before the hearing, he gave a stern warning to all members of the committee to focus on the topic of electoral intervention.

Facebook lobbied for a Google executive of similar rank to Sandberg at the hearing. When Burr announced an invitation to Google co-founder Larry

Dorsey came, page didn't come.

As the hearings unfolded, senators began to criticize Google executives for missing the hearings, and a wave of negative news reports would fall on Facebook's competitors.

Sandberg unfurled a neat stylus on the table: it included the names of each senator on the committee, their concerns, and

Her general policy was marked in large words:

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