‘Hate Easy To Grow On Facebook’ As Angry Emoji Carried 5 Times More Value Than Like: Report

New Delhi: Facebook’s troubles do not seem to end as “The Facebook Papers” are under scrutiny. The documents submitted by the former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen to the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that “anger and hate is the easiest way to grow on Facebook.”

The Washington Post report reveals that Facebook’s experiment with the reaction emojis which were added with the iconic “like” button resulted in more traction for negative or anger invoking posts.

In 2017, Facebook added five reactions for the posts to their iconic “like” thumbs-up button that were “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry.”

Initially, these directions were given different values to these reactions; “angry” emoji having five times more value than that of a “like”. It essentially means any content which is being reacted to with angry emoji will have more traction.

Dani Lever, Facebook’s spokesperson said the idea behind the experiment was to “improve people’s experience by prioritizing posts that inspire interactions”.

“That means Facebook for three years systematically amped up some of the worst of its platform, making it more prominent in users’ feeds and spreading it to a much wider audience,” concluded The Washington Post.

Facebook’s researchers had raised the concern that the practice could open “the door to more spam/abuse/clickbait inadvertently,” said a staffer according to the Washington Post’s report.

However the “The voice of caution won out by not trying to distinguish different reaction types and hence different emotions,” stated another staffer in The Facebook Papers.

Corrective Measures

According to The Washington Post, the company’s data scientists confirmed in 2019 that posts that sparked angry reaction emoji were disproportionately likely to include misinformation, toxicity, and low-quality news.

This resulted in the reduction of the value of angry emoji to zero by 2020 with a value of two likes given to “love” and “sad” emoji which still continues.

“Like any optimization, there’s going to be some ways that it gets exploited or taken advantage of,” said  Lars Backstrom, a vice president of engineering at Facebook defending the social networking giant.

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