On the other side were executives, including the company’s chief marketing officer and vice president of analytics, Alex Schultz, who worried that Facebook was already giving away too much. They argued that journalists and researchers were using CrowdTangle, a kind of turbocharged search engine that allows users to analyze Facebook trends and measure post performance, to dig up information they considered unhelpful — showing, for example, that right-wing commentators like Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino were getting much more engagement on their Facebook pages than mainstream news outlets. These executives argued that Facebook should selectively disclose its own data in the form of carefully curated reports, rather than handing outsiders the tools to discover it themselves. Team Selective Disclosure won, and CrowdTangle and its supporters lost. An internal battle over data transparency might seem low on the list of worthy Facebook investigations. But the CrowdTangle story is important, because it illustrates the way that Facebook’s obsession with managing its reputation often gets in the way of its attempts to clean up its platform. And it gets to the heart of one of the central tensions confronting Facebook in the post-Trump era. The company, blamed for everything from election interference to vaccine hesitancy, badly wants to rebuild trust with a skeptical public. But the more it shares about what happens on its platform, the more it risks exposing uncomfortable truths that could further damage its image.
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