Haugen stated that some of Facebook’s own research found that
“angry content” is more likely to receive engagement, something
that content producers and political parties are aware of.
“One of the most shocking pieces of information that I brought out
of Facebook that I think is essential to this disclosure is
political parties have been quoted, in Facebook’s own research,
saying, we know you changed how you pick out the content that goes
in the home feed,” said Haugen. “And now if we don’t publish
angry, hateful, polarizing, divisive content, crickets. We don’t
get anything. And we don’t like this. We know our constituents
don’t like this. But if we don’t do these stories, we don’t get
distributed. And so it used to be that we did very little of it,
and now we have to do a lot of it, because we have jobs to do. And
if we don’t get traffic and engagement, we’ll lose our jobs.”
Haugen’s whistleblowing jibes exactly with my theory all along: Facebook prioritizes growth and engagement over all else, and when they discovered that polarizing angering content drives engagement more than anything else, they let it fly. It’s that simple.