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Why Meta Platforms Stock Popped Today

By Rich Smith – Nov 5, 2021 at 1:41PM

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A new "Wall Street Journal" report surfaces -- and this time, Facebook fights back.

What happened

Meta Platforms (META 3.01%), the company formerly known as Facebook, is getting more proactive about fighting back against bad PR -- and its investors like the sound of that.

On Friday afternoon, shares of the social networking powerhouse surged 3% through 12:20 p.m. EDT after Facebook published a blog post disputing The Wall Street Journal's latest "Facebook Files" report just minutes after that report appeared on line.   

Meta logo

Image source: Meta Platforms.

So what

So what did the Journal say about Facebook this time, and how did Meta Platforms respond? (Apologies. It's going to take all of us some time to get used to this new company name.) The headline should give you a clue: "Is Facebook Bad for You? 360 Million Users Say Yes."

From there, the Journal proceeds to explain how using Facebook "hurts sleep, work, relationships or parenting for ... 1 in 8 of its users," citing internal documents from the company on "problematic use" of the app. In these documents, Meta Platforms eschewed the term "addiction," talking instead about "repetitive and excessive" use of the Facebook app.

As the Journal recounted, Meta Platforms found a connection between such repetitive and excessive use, and "loss of productivity when people stop completing tasks ... to check Facebook frequently, [and] a loss of sleep when they stay up late scrolling through the app." In some cases, the research even showed that "parents focused more on FB than caring for ... their children."

Now what

In contrast to previous Facebook Files reports by the Journal, which Facebook (as it was still known at the time) basically let lie at first, responding only days afterward, a reinvigorated and renamed Meta Platforms jumped out immediately with a rebuttal to this latest report:

"The Wall Street Journal ... is simply wrong," declared Meta Platforms. "Problematic use does not equal addiction." Moreover, "this is an industrywide challenge," argues the company. It's also a problem that Meta Platforms is trying to tackle, reminding that "since 2018, we have introduced nearly 10 products to better support people's well-being, including problematic use of our apps," and conducting public research into other solutions. Indeed, the company says this is a problem that Facebook has been working on "for over 10 years."

Of course, there's another way to look at statements like that. Ten years of work doesn't seem to have ended "problematic use" of Facebook. And now it's building a metaverse.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Meta Platforms, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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