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Facebook is reportedly using News Feed to improve its image

CNET logo CNET 9/22/2021 Queenie Wong
icon: Facebook has nearly 3 billion monthly active users. Sarah Tew/CNET © Provided by CNET Facebook has nearly 3 billion monthly active users. Sarah Tew/CNET

Facebook is reportedly trying to repair its battered image by showing users positive stories about the company within its News Feed.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the social network was taking a more aggressive approach as part of Project Amplify, an effort brought up internally in January. The effort comes as the the world's largest social network responds to a series of scandals that have plagued the company.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg signed off on the project last month, the Times reported. 

Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne told the Times that the social network hadn't changed its strategy and denied a January meeting happened. Osborne also tweeted he told the news outlet that there was "zero change" to Facebook's News Feed ranking.

"This is a test for an informational unit clearly marked as coming from Facebook," Osborne tweeted. "It's not the first of its kind, and is similar to corporate responsibility initiatives people see in other technology and consumer products." In an image shared on Twitter, Osborne showed blog posts from the company that Facebook showcased as part of the experiment.

Facebook has faced heightened scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators since the 2018 Cambridge Analytica data scandal, which raised concerns about whether the company was doing enough to protect the personal data of its users. The social network has also been under fire for not doing enough to curb the spread of misinformation about elections, the coronavirus and other issues. 

Facebook's image took another beating last week when The Wall Street Journal published a series of stories about the social network's internal research, including findings that Instagram was toxic for teen girls. The social network pushed back against the reports in a lengthy blog post, stating that the stories "contained deliberate mischaracterizations" of the company's motives.

The Times pointed out that Zuckerberg's personal Facebook and Instagram accounts haven't addressed the company's recent scandals, though they have featured content such as Zuckerberg riding "an electric surfboard" while carrying an American flag. Zuckerberg homed in on that reference in a Facebook post, saying it was "one thing for the media to say false things about my work" but noted he was riding "a hydrofoil" that he was pumping with his own legs.

icon: Facebook has nearly 3 billion monthly active users. © Sarah Tew/CNET

Facebook has nearly 3 billion monthly active users.


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