A Facebook whistleblower who handed The Wall Street Journal and the US Congress private documents revealing the company’s research exposed herself ahead of a Sunday night appearance with “60 Minutes.”
According to her website, Frances Haugen, a former product manager for Facebook’s civic misinformation team, claimed herself to be the source of a trove of stolen papers.
She said that the leaked documents are proof of how the company prioritizes “growth over safety”. She also said on her website about the time when she worked she “became increasingly alarmed by the choices the company makes prioritizing their own profits over public safety — putting people’s lives at risk. As a last resort and at great personal risk, Frances made the courageous act to blow the whistle on Facebook.”
In an appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Ms. Haugen said she left Facebook early this year after becoming disillusioned with the company. She duplicated a number of internal conversations and papers before leaving. The papers were provided to the Wall Street Journal, which has been releasing them in pieces over the previous three weeks, nicknamed the “Facebook Files” by some. The leaked documents showed that the celebrities, politicians, and high-profile Facebook users were handled differently by the firm. According to the disclosures, such accounts were subjected to various moderation policies, or none at all – a mechanism known as XCheck (cross-check).
The other records, which were originally published by the Journal, indicated, among other things, that Facebook officials were aware of the detrimental effects of its platforms on certain teenage users. According to one internal document seen by the Journal, 6 percent of American users who expressed suicidal thoughts attributed the impulse to harm themselves to Instagram.
However, it is claimed that US officials are much more concerned about the Instagram issue.
According to a different leak, Facebook is being sued by a group of its own shareholders.
According to the group, Facebook’s $5 billion (£3.65 billion) payment to the US Federal Trade Commission to resolve the Cambridge Analytica data scandal was so enormous because it was designed to protect Mark Zuckerberg from personal liability.
According to data published by the Wall Street Journal, 32% of teen girls polled indicated that when they were unhappy with their bodies, Instagram made them feel even worse.
Ms. Haugen will speak before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday on the company’s research into Instagram’s influence on the mental health of young users at a meeting titled “Protecting Kids Online.”
Last week, a Facebook executive testified before US legislators that the disclosures failed to highlight the platform’s positive impact on teens.
On the other side, Ms. Haugen was scathing in her criticism of her former worker.
She said, “There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook.”
“Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”
Ms. Haugen also discussed the January riots on Capitol Hill, saying that Facebook played a role in inciting the violence.
Facebook activated safety safeguards to prevent disinformation during the US election, she claimed, but only for a brief period, she further said.
“As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off or they changed the settings back to what they were before, to prioritize growth over safety,” Haugen said. “And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me.”
Haugen also told the Journal that she questioned why Facebook didn’t recruit more people to address concerns like human trafficking on its services.
“Facebook acted like it was powerless to staff these teams,” she told the Journal.
In response, Facebook’s spokesperson told the Journal that it has “invested heavily in people and technology to keep our platform safe, and have made fighting misinformation and providing authoritative information a priority.”
Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, speaking on CNN, said it was ridiculous to blame the riots on Facebook. “I think it gives people false comfort to assume that there must be a technological, or technical, explanation for the issues of political polarisation in the United States,” he said.
On Tuesday, the whistleblower will appear before the Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on consumer protection. Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, told legislators on Thursday that the tech giant (Facebook) will not retaliate against the Senate whistleblower.
“Facebook’s actions make clear that we cannot trust it to police itself,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who chairs the subcommittee, said in a statement Sunday night. “We must consider stronger oversight, effective protections for children, and tools for parents, among the needed reforms.”
Check out the whole interview on: https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen