Moments ago, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Meta, announced that she would be stepping down. In response, Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, released the following statement:
During Sheryl Sandberg’s 14-year tenure at Meta, the company’s social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp – devolved into cesspools of disinformation, racism, misogyny, violent conspiracy theories, and alt-right organizing.
Sheryl Sandberg knew this was a problem, and – like CEO Mark Zuckerberg – she failed to act. Sandberg leaves Meta, and the social media environment that Facebook helped create, in a far worse place than she found it. Hers is a legacy of enabling trolling, harassment, and abuse.
But beyond Sandberg’s legacy at Meta, a note from CEO Mark Zuckerberg about her departure should alarm everyone: it boasts about building a new content team that would "train our AI recommendation systems to help you discover the most interesting, relevant, and personalized content." This is a complete change of course from Facebook’s public claims that it would reduce disinformation and extreme content from newsfeeds by prioritizing ‘organic content’ from friends.
Additionally, Sandberg’s departure will further empower Facebook’s policy boss and longtime Republican party operative, Joel Kaplan. More than just a mere enabler, Kaplan actively uses the levers of Facebook to advance his ideological and partisan interests.
The keys to Facebook are now being handed over to bots that will further foment extremism and a partisan ideologue with a history of misusing his position to tip the scales in favor of his ideology. Hard to imagine, but Facebook is about to get even worse and much more dangerous.
After last year’s Capitol insurrection, Sandberg dismissed the company’s role in enabling the attack and falsely claimed that “these events were largely organized on platforms that don’t have our abilities to stop hate.” We found, however, that “Stop the Steal” organizers had used Facebook and Instagram to promote events, including the rally that led to a mob breaching the Capitol.