Meta dissolves its team responsible for anticipating the harmful effects of its products

Set up to identify and address damage to company products and services, the goals of this team will be pursued in other parts of the company.

Technology and digital can be beneficial for individuals just as they are likely to harm them. Aware of this, Meta (formerly Facebook) had created a responsible innovation team to anticipate and limit the negative consequences of its products. “Products like Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, but also emerging technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality, have the potential to improve people’s lives (…) As the use of these technologies grows and as the influence of our platforms grows, our responsibility to detect and mitigate potential harm must also expand.”explained Margaret Stewart, vice president in charge of the team, in a blog post in 2021.

Composed of engineers, academics, specialists in ethics and other fields, it has just been dismantled by the Californian group, revealed the Wall Street Journal September 8. According to the statements of a spokesperson for the company to the American daily, the objectives of this team will be pursued in other parts of the firm.

Products with harmful effects for users

This dismantling comes at a difficult time for Meta, which has slowed its hiring following a drop in its advertising revenue. The giant is also more dedicated to the development of the metaverse, considered the future of the Internet by its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. This universe mixing virtual and real is however not free from problems, having already proved dangerous for certain users. In addition to sexual harassment, many have been confronted with homophobic or racist comments. These issues have raised criticism over the lack of moderation in the metaverse.

Meta has also been criticized for the harmful effects of its platforms, especially since the Facebook Files, a series of revelations that weakened the company last year. The team that has just been disbanded – described as a “general practitioner” by Margaret Sewart – had been helpful in avoiding such negative consequences. According to Zvika Krieger, who ran it before leaving Meta earlier this year, for example, she was involved in the Facebook Dating team’s decision not to include a filter that allowed users to target or exclude potential love interests. of a particular breed.

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