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Facebook targeted users with low ‘digital literacy’ skills with violent and explicit messages

According to a recent report, studies show that Facebook’s news feed algorithms target users with low digital literacy skills and deliberately send them violent, disturbing and sexually explicit content.

United States today reports that two years ago, Facebook researchers conducted a five-question survey to assess the digital literacy skills of Facebook users. The survey tested how well users understood the interface of the Facebook application and online terms such as “tagging” on social media.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is applauded as he delivers the keynote address showcasing new privacy features for Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram at the Facebook F8 conference at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, April 30, 2019. AMY OSBORNE / AFP / Getty Images)

Facebook targeted users with low ‘digital literacy’ skills with violent and explicit messages

Mark Zuckerberg presents Meta (Facebook)

Users were given a score based on the number of questions they answered correctly and this information was then compared to the types of content that Facebook’s algorithms sent to those users over a 30-day period.

The researchers found that user scores predicted almost exactly what percentage of posts users saw that contained violence and nudity. The lower a user’s digital literacy score, the more likely they are to receive disturbing content through Facebook’s news feed. Users who answered all survey questions incorrectly saw 11.4% more nudity and 13.4% more graphic violence compared to users who answered all questions correctly.

A Facebook employee commented on the internal study: “It’s super interesting. It’s also very disappointing to realize that the “default” stream experience, so to speak, includes nudity + limit content, unless otherwise noted.

Facebook identified vulnerable users with low digital literacy skills and conducted in-depth interviews and home visits with them to better understand them. They found that the content displayed to users in their news feeds caused them to distance themselves from Facebook for a long period of time and further exacerbated the difficulties they were currently facing.

Facebook appeared to repeatedly show posts from a middle-aged black woman regarding racial resentment and videos of people bullying children and killing others. Another person who joined a Narcotics Anonymous Facebook group began receiving ads for alcoholic beverages. Another user joined a coupons and savings page and was quickly served with fraudulent financial advertisements.

Read more on United States today here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News and covers issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on twitter @LucasNolan or contact by secure email at

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