2022 The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Large Newsroom finalist

The Facebook Files

About the Project

Facebook knows its products harm millions of people. It knows about Instagram’s impact on the mental health of teenage girls. It knows criminals use its platforms for human trafficking. It knows its algorithms encourage discord and anger, and that they contribute to ethnic violence and political polarization. It knows many of its practices are indefensible.

Confronted repeatedly with these findings by its own employees, what did Facebook do in response? Barely anything.

These are the central findings of The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series, an investigative project that now defines the public’s discourse about one of the most powerful companies in the world.

Innovative data techniques, design and visualizations played a central role in the reporting, readability, and understanding of the series.

We explored the story from many different angles and formats, including original photography, podcasts, an Ebook for offline reading, and a live video conversation with our most engaged readers. We also included highly sensitive source documents that were scrupulously treated for presentation.

The Journal’s reporting led to multiple congressional hearings in the U.S.; a bipartisan investigation from a coalition of state attorneys general; a flurry of legislative activity in Congress to write laws that would rein in large technology companies; a fresh regulatory push in the European Union and the U.K.; and a rebuke of the company by its own oversight board. Within two weeks of the Journal’s article about Instagram’s effects on young people, Facebook said it would pause indefinitely a version of the product designed for children.