Facebook Issues Response to Documentary “The Social Dilemma”

The technology company issued a 7-point rebuttal

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What does Facebook think of "The Social Dilemma"? Now we know.
Manish Rajput/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Early September brought with it the release of Jeff Orlowski’s acclaimed documentary The Social Dilemma. In her review of the film, critic Nell Minnow concisely set out its perspective: “What we learn in this movie is that our brains are being manipulated and even rewired by algorithms that are designed to get our attention and make us buy things, including buying into distorted ideas about the world, ourselves, and each other.” For many viewers, it was a worrying look at how technology has reshaped us.

Now, one of the technology companies addressed in The Social Dilemma has responded to the documentary’s criticisms. That company is Facebook, who posted a 7-point rebuttal to the arguments made in the film. Titled “What ‘The Social Dilemma’ Gets Wrong,” it offers the tech company’s side of the argument. But will it be enough to convince viewers of the film that they have little to be worried about?

Facebook’s statement argues that the documentary “buries the substance in sensationalism,” and critiques the filmmakers for their use of “commentary from those who haven’t been on the inside for many years.” Facebook’s overall argument seems to be that the film doesn’t accurately reflect the changes that they’ve implemented internally since 2016.

There’s also a slight jab at Netflix — who are distributing The Social Dilemma — noting that they, like Facebook, make use of algorithms. The fact that Facebook remains contentious for a host of reasons might get at the unspoken issue here: even if Facebook has improved things since 2016, that still leaves a lot of room for improvement — and just getting better since then won’t necessarily fix things completely.

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