The Lawfare Podcast: Inside the Facebook Files

By Jen Patja Howell
Thursday, September 23, 2021, 5:01 AM

Today, we’re bringing you another episode of Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem. We’ll be talking about “The Facebook Files”—a series of stories by the Wall Street Journal about Facebook’s failures to mitigate harms on its platform. There’s a lot of critical reporting about Facebook out there, but what makes the Journal’s series different is that it’s based on documents from within the company itself—memos from Facebook researchers, identifying problems based on hard data, proposing solutions that Facebook leadership then fails or refuses to implement and contradicts in public statements. One memo literally says, “We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly.”

To discuss the Journal’s reporting, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jeff Horwitz, a technology reporter at the paper who obtained the leaked documents and led the team reporting the Facebook Files. What was it like working on the series? What's his response to Facebook's pushback? And why is there so much discontent within the company?