Facebook claims it has spent $13 billion on user safety and security since 2016

By: |
September 22, 2021 12:01 PM

It highlighted the removal of 20 million false content on Covid-19 and vaccination and the blocking of 3 billion fake accounts just in the first half of 2021.

Facebook ReutersThe $13 billion Facebook has claimed to spend also backs up its 2018 promise. (Reuters)

Facebook has spent $13 billion on user “safety and security” since 2016 with a dedicated 40,000-strong workforce, the US social media giant said following a week of Wall Street Journal leaks.

The company said The Wall Street Journal leaks missed important context about complicated issues and revealed the numbers to show how it addressed the problems on Facebook and Instagram.

In a blog post, Facebook said: “In the past, we didn’t address safety and security challenges early enough in the product development process.”

“But we have fundamentally changed that approach. Today, we embed teams focusing specifically on safety and security issues directly into product development teams, allowing us to address these issues during our product development process, not after it.”

The Wall Street Journal had alleged that Facebook delayed action despite knowing of serious problems such as Covid-19 misinformation and negative emotional effect on the platform’s users. However, it delayed fixing these problems due to fear of weakening engagement. Facebook executive Nick Clegg has already issued a rebuttal and accused the newspaper of deliberately mischaracterising what the company was trying to do.

Facebook’s response recasts the Journal‘s allegations in a positive light — focusing on how it responded not on whether those actions came too late. It highlighted the removal of 20 million false content on Covid-19 and vaccination and the blocking of 3 billion fake accounts just in the first half of 2021.

Facebook’s figures are an update to its earlier numbers. In 2017, the company had 10,000 members of staff, including outside contractors, working on safety and security and promised to double the figure within one year.

The $13 billion Facebook has claimed to spend also backs up its 2018 promise to devote billions of dollars every year on safety and security. Facebook was forced to make high-profile promises to invest in the area during 2017 and 2018, when it faced intense scrutiny over its role in the Cambridge Analytica privacy controversy and election propaganda campaigns.

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