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Facebook used “Stormchaser” tool to keep track of negative press

You would think that with a negative Facebook story every day, the company would have already given up the idea of trying to contain negative press.
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has had technology and policies in place designed to protect the company’s interests and image on the platform.

Bloomberg reports that it saw documents and heard testimonies of four people whom it did not name, who detailed one of the tools used by Facebook, the Stormchaser software.

According to the report, the software was used to track “fake news”, hoaxes, and the like about Facebook and its products and services.

One example was a message urging the recipient to copy and paste it and share it with all their friends – stating that otherwise, the tech giant would share their private information.

Stormchaser was used here to monitor the spread of the meme and counter it by posting messages to users, declaring it to be fake.

Before the use of the software was discontinued for reasons unknown in 2018, other instances of things that it tracked included claims that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is an alien, that Facebook was spying on its users via their phones’ microphones, that Facebook would start charging money for using it – and a campaign urging people to delete their account on the social network.

According to Bloomberg, what makes Facebook’s efforts of keeping at bay “fake news” about itself different from those of any other company is that it “owns the platform and can reach users more effectively.”

Then there’s the tarnished image of Facebook – on account of its “role in spreading Russian misinformation during the U.S. election and numerous privacy scandals.”

Another way to stay on top of how Facebook was perceived in the news shared on its platform and on Facebook-owed messaging service WhatsApp was “Night’s Watch.”

And although WhatsApp is encrypted, this didn’t mean Facebook was unable to draw its conclusions from the metadata left by users as they “mentioned information from WhatsApp when they posted to Facebook.”

The report cited an unnamed former Facebook employee who said these activities showed the company was thinking about itself first when dealing with “fake news.” Yet another former employee said Stormchaser was no different than what others do to protect their reputation.

And a spokesperson for Facebook thinks comparing refuting misinformation directed at the company itself and misinformation, in general, was like comparing apples and oranges.

“We didn’t use this internal tool to fight false news because that wasn’t what it was built for, and it wouldn’t have worked,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email. “The tool was built with simple technology that helped us detect posts about Facebook based on keywords, so we could consider whether to respond to product confusion on our own platform. Comparing the two is a false equivalence,” the spokesperson said in an email.

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