A Facebook whistleblower has confirmed what many have long suspected: The social media giant is profiting off anger and division.

That seems like the sort of thing we should all be concerned about because …

AW, CRAM IT, YOU LUNKHEAD!!!

Who is this? And how did you get in my column?

HAH! YOUR TOO DUM TO EVEN GET IT, YOU COMMIE. I’M YOU. OR AT LEAST THE PART OF YOU THAT FACEBOOK’S ALGORITHMS TARGET.

Oh dear. What I was trying to get across is that we should all be concerned about the way a massive company such as Facebook is manipulating our baser emotions to make money, seeing any human and societal collateral damage as the cost of doing business.

The whistleblower, identified on “60 Minutes” Sunday night as Frances Haugen, said during her interview: “Facebook makes more money when you consume more content. People enjoy engaging with things that elicit an emotional reaction. And the more anger that they get exposed to, the more they interact and the more they consume.”

WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT NONSENSE, YOU DOLT?

I just said it was on “60 Minutes.”

WHY SHOULD I BELIEVE THAT? I SAW A POST ON FACEBOOK THAT SAID ANY CLAIM THAT FACEBOOK IS FEEDING OFF ANGER IS FAKE NEWS THAT I SHOULD BE ANGRY ABOUT. ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT’S NOT TRUE?

Yes, of course I’m telling you that’s not true. That’s called disinformation, something Facebook is uniquely good at spreading and …

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

No, I’m serious. Millions of Americans get their news primarily from Facebook, and Facebook’s algorithms tailor each person’s news feed to align with things they’ve liked or reacted to in the past, with little regard to the accuracy of the so-called news stories. So it’s an endless loop where people read something that may or may not be true, get mad about it, leave an angry comment and then get more and more stories that feed their anger and confirm their biases.

YOU SOUND LIKE SUCH A SCHMUCK! I HATE YOU!!

Why would you say that?

BECAUSE IT FEELS GOOD!

Stop it! This is worse than I thought.

Haugen said during her “60 Minutes” interview: “Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money.”

GOOD! I WANT TO BE ANGRY AT ALL TIMES!

You might, but I don’t. It’s exhausting. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is letting peoples’ minds get manipulated, making Americans not just care less about each other but harbor real feelings of hatred. And he’s doing it to add additional stacks of money to the billions and billions of dollars he has.

THIS IS AMERICA, YOU DOPE. THE MAN NEEDS MONEY!

For what? To buy Jet Skis for his pet chimpanzees?

SPOKEN LIKE A CLASSIC MARXIST WHO DOESN’T THINK CHIMPANZEES DESERVE JET SKIS.

I can’t believe this nonsense is happening in my own mind.

BELIEVE IT BABY!!

Ugh. The whistleblower gave The Wall Street Journal thousands of pages of corporate documents for its recent expose on Facebook, and the paper’s stories concluded: “Facebook Inc. knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands.”

THAT’S FAKE NE …

NO, IT’S NOT! Stop your blabbering for one blessed minute and listen to reason. Long before this whistleblower started whistling, and long before this reporting came out, it was abundantly clear that Facebook and Instagram, along with Twitter, were poisoning minds.

We can see it in the ways Americas has become divided. We can see it in the erosion of basic behavioral norms, in the recent vitriolic anti-mask hollering at school board meetings and the propagation of the Jan. 6 domestic-terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol. Perhaps the most glaring example is the fact that 700,000 Americans have died during the coronavirus pandemic and we, as a nation, have failed to unite.

This is not just happening organically. Our worst selves are being drawn out by technology that caters to—and profits from—our worst selves.


Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

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