Facebook obsessively monitored perception of itself on the platform using tools with names like Nights Watch, prioritizing its response to these fake news over hoaxes with real-world consequences, according to former employees.
Facebook used a dedicated software program called Stormchaser to track viral negative rumors and hoaxes about itself, both on Facebook and on WhatsApp, according to former employees who spoke to Bloomberg. Users who shared the offending information might be greeted with a friendly rebuttal from Facebook itself informing them that the rumor theyd just shared was not true.
These “quick promotions” were deployed as far back as 2015 to counter a number of persistent rumors about Facebook that the social networking platform claims are false, including the stubborn but always-denied allegation that Facebook listens to users through their phones microphone and a copy-paste hoax that went viral in the Philippines that threatened users with Facebook leaking their personal info if they didnt share the threat with all of their friends.
Facebook also mulled serving quick proposals to US users to tell them the platform was focused on the “fake news” problem and instruct them in how to report misinformation. And Facebook was focused on fake news, as long as the fake news involved Facebook – Stormchaser even tracked joke memes claiming CEO Mark Zuckerberg was an alien, according to one former employee.
While the program arguably showed Facebooks priorities were a bit skewed – hoaxes spread on the platform and its subsidiaries have led to violence and deaths in India and Myanmar – a company spokeswoman took issue with the suggestion that Facebook should have used Stormchaser to fight misinformation about outside issues, arguing “that wasnt what it was built for, and it wouldnt have worked.”
Another program, called Nights Watch (after the TV show Game of Thrones) allowed Facebook to observe how news stories about itself spread, both on Facebook itself and on WhatsApp, even though the latter is supposed to be encrypted. It has since been supplanted by public perception polls, which continue to track – some would say obsessively – public perception of Zuckerberg and FacebooRead More – Source