The new Project Amplify effort, which has been code-named by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s top executive, was approved last month. There was a particular goal in mind when the initiative was conceived at an internal meeting in January: to utilise Facebook’s News Feed, which serves as the site’s most valuable digital real estate, to display users favourable articles about the social network.
According to three individuals with knowledge of the operation, the goal was to promote pro-Facebook news articles, some of which were produced by the business itself, in order to enhance the company’s image in the eyes of its users. However, the move was fraught with difficulty since Facebook had not previously positioned the News Feed as a location where it could improve its own image. Several executives in attendance were taken aback by the idea, according to one of those there.
Earlier this year, Facebook announced Project Amplify, which was the culmination of a series of choices that the company took to aggressively alter its image. The company has launched a multipronged effort to change its narrative since that January meeting, including separating Zuckerberg from scandals, restricting outsiders’ access to internal data, burying an allegedly negative report about its content, and increasing its own advertising to promote its brand.
The changes represent a significant shift in approach. Over the course of many years, Facebook responded to crisis after crisis involving privacy, disinformation, and hate speech on its platform by apologising publicly. During the 2016 presidential election, Zuckerberg personally accepted responsibility for Russian involvement on the site, and he has been a vocal advocate for free expression on the internet. Facebook has also pledged to be more transparent about how it operates in the future.
However, the drumbeat of condemnation on topics as diverse as racist statements and vaccination disinformation has remained unabated for the time being. Employees at Facebook who are dissatisfied with their company have fueled the commotion by speaking out against their employer and leaking confidential information. The Wall Street Journal published stories based on similar records last week, indicating that Facebook was aware of many of the damages it was inflicting before they were published.
So, after deciding that their tactics had failed to quiet criticism or gain allies, Facebook management decided to go on the attack early this year, according to six current and former workers who refused to be named for fear of retaliation.