Facebook is revealed to have hired a pollster to monitor the public perception of founder Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.
Last year, Tavis McGinn was hired to fill the role that is similar to those held in political campaign, reported The Verge.
Facebook had recently acknowledged that Russia-linked groups had spent more than $100,000 on political advertising after initially discounting the possibility that fake news had contributed to Donald Trump's victory.
Zuckerberg had undertaken a nationwide listening tour meant to 'get a broader perspective' to inform how he runs Facebook.
'It was a very unusual role,' McGinn told the website.
'It was my job to do surveys and focus groups globally to understand why people like Mark Zuckerberg, whether they think they can trust him, and whether they've even heard of him. That's especially important outside of the United States.'
McGinn said he used several questions to track the public perception.
'Not just him in the abstract, but do people like Mark's speeches? Do they like his interviews with the press? Do people like his posts on Facebook? It's a bit like a political campaign, in the sense that you're constantly measuring how every piece of communication lands,' he said.
It went beyond simple 'thumbs-up' or 'thumbs-down' metrics, McGinn said. The research look at different topics he mentioned in his speeches and seeing what resonated with US audiences.
Aditionally, McGinn was assigned with conducting similar research on behalf of the company's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.
The surveys measured awareness about Sandberg, if she was liked and trusted, opinions on her speeches and her public image compared with Zuckerberg's.
McGinn declined to disclose the budget for the project, but described it as 'very, very expensive'.
Although, Facebook is not unique among tech companies in conducting surveys to gauge perceptions about its brand, it was unusual for the social media giant to hire a staff person whose sole job was to monitor perceptions of its CEO.
Because of nondisclosure agreements, McGinn is not allowed to discuss what the results of his polling found.
However, he did reveal that he decided to leave the company after only six months after coming to believe that Facebook had a negative effect on the world.
After McGinn left Facebook, he founded a company called HonestData. In January, he posted the results of a poll asking 2,000 Americans what they thought of Facebook.
Among tech companies, 32 percent of Americans said Facebook is harmful. A separate survey, which placed Facebook among other large brands including Walmart, McDonald's, and Marlboro, found that 27 percent said it is harmful.
McGinn believes there are 'plenty of good people at Facebook trying to make a difference' and that the He doesn't believe the company has acted with bad intentions. But he does believe the company's priorities have had negative consequences.
'I think Facebook could have a really good impact on society,' McGinn says. 'I think a lot of what this comes down to is how a company chooses to measure success.'
Source: Daily Mail