Former Facebook monetization manager Tim Kendall spoke to the US Congress as part of a hearing on how social media and other platforms are influencing the spread of extremism. The man who managed the development policy of the largest social network in the world from 2006 to 2010 bluntly stated that for the sake of profit, his subordinates manipulated facts and information. The main goal was to create user dependence on Facebook, even if it harmed them themselves.
Tim Kendall said that to solve this problem, they copied the methods of the tobacco companies of the past, literally implementing the rules from the Big Tobacco textbook page after page. For example, when the addictive potential of nicotine was exhausted, cigarette manufacturers began to add sugar and menthol to tobacco. The smoke lingered in the lungs longer and the addiction set in faster. Facebook implemented this through a complex policy of likes, reposts, status updates and notifications - users were (and are) kept inside the social network by all available means.
The main metric that influenced all decisions of Facebook's management was user “engagement”, but only because the word “addiction” was taboo. But fake news, conspiracy theories, inaccurate facts and outright data manipulation did not meet with resistance - because they attracted the attention of users. Any “toxic” content went into action if it increased engagement, while criticism and complaints were initially vetoed.
At the end of his speech, Kendall noted that Mark Zuckerberg is personally not a bad person, but, like all other top managers of Facebook, he is at the mercy of this concept of user engagement. On their own, they will never "heal"; tough regulatory measures are needed - possibly up to prison terms. In its current form, and this opinion was confirmed by the strike of Facebook employees themselves last summer, the social network only harms its users.