Facebook says Netflix's The Social Dilemma 'gives a distorted view'
The company says the film "buries the substance in sensationalism."
Abrar Al-HeetiVideo producer / CNET
Abrar Al-Heeti is a video host and producer for CNET, with an interest in internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. Before joining the video team, she was a writer for CNET's culture team. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
ExpertiseAbrar has spent her career at CNET breaking down the latest trends on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, while also reporting on diversity and inclusion initiatives in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.Credentials
Named a Tech Media Trailblazer by the Consumer Technology Association in 2019, a winner of SPJ NorCal's Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2022 and has three times been a finalist in the LA Press Club's National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.
Facebook complains that the film's creators don't include insights from current employees at the companies mentioned, or from people who have alternate viewpoints.
"Rather than offer a nuanced look at technology, it gives a distorted view of how social media platforms work to create a convenient scapegoat for what are difficult and complex societal problems," Facebook writes. "They also don't acknowledge—critically or otherwise—the efforts already taken by companies to address many of the issues they raise. Instead, they rely on commentary from those who haven't been on the inside for many years."
The company then goes into a list of things it says the film "gets wrong." When it comes to the issue of addiction, Facebook says: "Our News Feed product teams are not incentivized to build features that increase time-spent on our products. Instead we want to make sure we offer value to people, not just drive usage."
Facebook points to an example in 2018 when it changed its News Feed ranking to prioritize "meaningful social interactions" rather than things like viral videos. The company says this move led to a decrease of 50 million hours a day on the platform. "That isn't the kind of thing you do if you are simply trying to drive people to use your services more," the company wrote.
Next, Facebook rebutted the idea that users are the product, noting, "Facebook is funded by advertising so that it remains free for people." It also defended its use of algorithms, saying that Facebook's technology "keeps the platform relevant and useful." It pointed to other platforms that use algorithms, including Netflix, adding: "Portraying algorithms as 'mad' may make good fodder for conspiracy documentaries, but the reality is a lot less entertaining."