The Facebook Dilemma Goes Interactive

The more information that comes out about what social media companies like Facebook knew about their networks being used to manipulate people’s opinions – and when they knew it – the more interesting it is to go back and compare who said what, when.

That made The Facebook Dilemma an especially apt documentary to get the Interactive treatment.

Like the Putin Files project I helped with last year and The Frontline Interviews: Trump’s Showdown earlier this year, The Frontline Interviews: The Facebook Dilemma lets viewers in on source material that went into the documentary.

You can peruse 29 of the source interviews (scroll past the interactive film to get to the directory of interactive interviews).


Twelve of these are linked to the video interviews, so you can see and hear how something is being said as well as read it. It’s useful for readers to be able to access more of the source material, especially if what we know about who said what, when, changes over time.

Also, like Trump’s Showdown, there’s an interactive version of the film itself. If you haven’t already watched The Facebook Dilemma, make sure to watch the interactive version, which gives you a hotspot every so often that you can click on to get to a key quote in context, and has a menu that lets you scroll through key quotes.

Here’s a sampling of quotes from the interactive interviews. The first two appear in the documentary. Click the link below each quote to see it in the context of the interview. Then, from the interview you can click to see where the quote appears in the documentary.

So I think Mark—and Mark has said this, that we have been slow to really understand the ways in which Facebook might be used for bad things.

Yes. I was pretty explicit about the state of the problem.


And here are some additional details from the interviews.

David Madden on quality control:

We’ve seen content that breaches Facebook’s own Community Standards persist on the platform even after it’s been reported many times.


Maria Ressa with more detail about happened in the Philippines:

In July we started gathering data, and we started looking at accounts. We started looking at bots and fake accounts. By end of July, we had identified 26 fake accounts. Over three months, we were able to actually manually figure out the spread. When you have a sock puppet network—these 26 fake accounts followed each other, so they gamed the algorithm, right? And if you have 26 fake accounts working together, how many will they influence? We counted it manually. They influenced almost 3 million others.

The end of August I gave the data to Facebook. I told them: “This is very alarming. We’re under attack. You have to look at this because you have elections coming up in the United States.” And then I cracked a joke. I said, “If you don’t do something, Trump could win.” And we all laughed. Then in November, after Trump won, they came back and asked me for the data again.


Elizabeth Linder with an anecdote about the makeup of Facebook:

Well, I remember actually the Facebook holiday party in 2010. I took my mom as my date. And at the end of the holiday party – it was so much fun, it was at the Academy of Sciences – mom said, you know, “I was the oldest person at that holiday party.” And immediately I’m thinking, I was like, “No, mom, there’s no way that’s true.” And then of course, I went through in my head all of senior management and realized every member of the senior management team was at least 10 to 20 years younger than my mother at the time.


You can also share your own quotes: select the text you want, and you have a choice of sharing the quote and link to Facebook, Twitter, or copying it so you can paste it into a research document or email.

There’s more background about interactive transcripts on the PatchonTech Interactive Transcripts page.