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Facebook issued a study on what material was most popular in the United States last quarter on Wednesday. It was the first time such a report had been made public. However, according to The New York Times, Facebook was working on a comparable report for the first quarter of 2021 that it chose not to release because it may have negatively reflected on the firm.
According to the New York Times, the most-viewed link in the first quarter included a headline that might encourage COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy, which has been a problem on the social media site. “A ‘healthy’ doctor died two weeks after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination; CDC is investigating why,” ran the headline.
According to The New York Times, Facebook executives, including Alex Schultz, the company’s chief marketing officer and vice president of analytics, “debated whether it would constitute a public relations problem” and finally chose not to publish the study.
We considered making the report public earlier but since we knew the attention it would garner, exactly as we saw this week, there were fixes to the system we wanted to make,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement. Stone further clarified Schultz’s position on whether or not Facebook should disclose the study, stating that Schultz “advocated for the report’s publication.”
Facebook has had a hectic week. It has had to deal with an updated antitrust case brought against the firm by the Federal Trade Commission in addition to publishing the report about the most popular postings.