Facebook criticizes journalists for reporting on leaked docs about company

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Facebook is criticizing news outlets for reporting on leaked documents about the company ahead of the release of what Facebook called a “coordinated series of articles.” 

Facebook’s vice president of communications, John Pinette, wrote a series of tweets Monday chastising journalists, without naming any outlets specifically, for working on articles based on “thousands of pages of leaked documents” agreed to under an embargo. 

“Right now 30+ journalists are finishing up a coordinated series of articles based on thousands of pages of leaked documents. We hear that to get the docs, outlets had to agree to the conditions and a schedule laid down by the PR team that worked on earlier leaked docs,” Pinette wrote. 

Facebook itself routinely releases blog posts and announcements to journalists only under the agreement of a set time for an embargo. 

It is not clear what information the documents Facebook is referring to will reveal, but Pinette’s tweets come on the heels of reports from The Wall Street Journal based on leaked internal documents by a Facebook whistleblower that have led to increased calls for transparency from Facebook. 

The reports, and whistleblower Frances Haugen’s subsequent Senate testimony, detailed allegations that Facebook’s products offered preferential treatment of high-profile users, contributed to coronavirus vaccine misinformation, and negatively impacted the mental health of teen users.

Facebook has pushed back on the reports, and Haugen’s testimony, as mischaracterizing the results of the internal findings. 

Pinette used the same argument in his Twitter thread Monday. 

“Over the last 6 weeks, including over the weekend, we’ve seen how documents can be mischaracterized. Obviously, not every employee at Facebook is an executive; not every opinion is the company’s position,” he tweeted. 

“A curated selection out of millions of documents at Facebook can in no way be used to draw fair conclusions about us. Internally, we share work in progress and debate options. Not every suggestion stands up to the scrutiny we must apply to decisions affecting so many people,” he added. 

Pinette said the company is “ready to engage on the substance” with news organizations but did not go so far as to say that the company will release the documents that it expects to be leaked through reports. 

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