Facebook’s Embattled Mark Zuckerberg Slaps Media – “There Is A Different Constituency I Serve, That Is People”; Sees Big ‘Metaverse’ Investment

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Addressing “the recent debate around our company,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave not an inch on Monday, saying, “what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture.”

Kicking off a conference call with financial analysts after quarterly earnings, Zuckerberg addressed the elephant in the room — weeks of devastating stories based largely but not solely on documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen. The common thread is the social media giant’s various corrosive impacts on society (from teen girls’ body image to the Jan. 6 insurrection) for the sake of profit, and that it knows but won’t make needed fixes.

Haugen delivered another round of blistering testimony to U.K. lawmakers at a earlier today following her appearance at at Senate hearing three weeks ago.

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“The reality is that we have an open culture where we encourage discussion and research about our work,” Zuckerberg insisted. “We have industry leading programs to study the effects of our products and provide transparency on our progress because we care about getting things right.” He cited the quarterly disclosure reports and an Oversight Committee the company set up.

Facebook’s choices are not about profit, he added, but about balancing competing social values – like free expression and reducing harmful content, or enabling interoperability with locking down data. “It makes a great sound bite to say we don’t solve these impossible tradeoffs because we just focus on making money.”

“I have repeatedly called for regulation to provide clarity because I do not believe companies should be responsible for making so many of those decisions themselves,” he said.

Polarization started well before Facebook. Facebook didn’t cause it, and Facebook can’t solve it, he said.

“We can’t change the underlying media dynamic, but there is a different constituency I serve, and that is people.”

Analysts on the call actually didn’t ask much about the controversy swirling around the company, focusing on advertising and on the gradually rollout of Zuckerberg’s new vision, the “Metaverse,” a kind of experiential social media powered by AR and VR that the company said it will invest about $10 billion in this year.

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