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 on Tuesday.
In January, executives proposed an initiative, code-named “Project Amplify,” to tweak users’ feeds and 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.
“This is a test for an informational unit clearly marked as coming from Facebook,” spokesperson Joe Osborne told The Times, saying Project Amplify is “similar to corporate responsibility initiatives people see in other technology and consumer products.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
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.
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.
“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.