Mark Zuckerberg personally approved a project that pushed pro-Facebook stories into the news feeds of the platform's users, report says

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Mark Zuckerberg personally approved a project that pushed pro-Facebook stories into the news feeds of the platform's users, report says
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Tobias Hase/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • Mark Zuckerberg approved promoting pro-Facebook stories in users' news feeds, NYT reported Tuesday.
  • The proposed "Project Amplify" involved running ads and pushing positive news stories about Facebook.
  • Facebook's overall strategy has shifted to become less apologetic in recent months.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally approved an internal effort to push positive stories about the besieged company via users' News Feeds, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

In January, executives proposed an initiative, code-named "Project Amplify," to run ads to show more pro-Facebook news stories and highlight more posts written by the company, according to the Times.

After Zuckerberg signed off on Project Amplify in August, Facebook began testing the changes in three cities through a tool called "Quick Promote," marking the first time the company explicitly pushed positive press about itself, the Times reported.

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"There is zero change to the News Feed ranking. This is a test for an informational unit clearly marked as coming from Facebook. It's not the first of its kind, and is similar to corporate responsibility initiatives people see in other technology and consumer products," Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborned told Insider in a statement.

Facebook has recently faced another wave of negative press and employees have increasingly been raising concerns about everything from its handling of COVID-19 misinformation to algorithmic changes that they feared promoted divisive political content.

In contrast to its response to the Cambridge Analytica data leak and other past scandals, Facebook's public relations strategy has become increasingly unapologetic in recent months, including shelving a report that showed the most popular post on its platform in Q1 2021 contained misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine.

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In the January meeting, Facebook executives proposed defending the company more aggressively, according to the Times. But the Project Amplify reportedly shocked some in attendance.

Osborne refuted The Times' reporting about the January meeting in a series of tweets.

"People deserve to know the steps we're taking to address the different issues facing our company - and we're going to share those steps widely," Osborne told the Times, denying that the company's strategy had shifted.

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