On a Wednesday morning in September, sitting at a table in a suburban Ottawa dim sum restaurant he has frequented for much of his life, Kevin Chan pauses at my question: how often does the media get it wrong when it comes to Facebook?
Chan is a chronically energetic speaker, so the silence is a bit jarring—though perhaps it’s understandable, given the subject. He is a senior global director and head of public policy for Canada at Facebook, since rebranded as Meta. In the days before and after our meeting, The Wall Street Journal published “The Facebook Files,” a series of reports based on a raft of internal documents collected by whistleblower and former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen. The paper’s contention: that the company amps up outrage, enables human trafficking and otherwise allows misinformation to fester on its platforms—which include Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp—because doing so is good for business.
Finally, Chan chuckles. “You’re not wrong, Martin,” he says—which doesn’t answer my question, so I ask again. How often does the media get it wrong about Facebook?