A former Facebook employee turned whistleblower has revealed her identity after making a series of damning disclosures about the tech giant.
Frances Haugen was interviewed on Sunday by CBS on 60 Minutes, saying that the social network repeatedly prioritized “growth over safety” and is “destroying our societies.”
Tomorrow (October 5), he will testify before a Senate subcommittee at a hearing on Facebook’s investigation into the effect of Instagram on the mental health of young people.
Who is Frances and what did she do?
Ms. Haugen worked as a product manager on Facebook’s disinformation team before leaving the company earlier this year.
For the past three weeks, the Wall street journal he has been reporting, in a series known as the Facebook Files, on memos and internal documents that he had copied before leaving his job.
The 37-year-old data scientist from Iowa has a degree in computer engineering and an MBA from Harvard.
Ms. Haugen, who has worked for companies like Google and Pinterest, told CBS: “I’ve seen a lot of social media and Facebook was substantially worse than anything I’ve ever seen before.”
What do the leaked files show?
Ms Haugen said the documents showed that Facebook used algorithms to prioritize profits over the safety and well-being of its users, including teenagers and people living in politically unstable countries.
“Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” he said, adding that thousands of pages of evidence show the company has lied about its progress in fighting hate, violence and misinformation in line.
A study from this year says, according to Ms Haugen, Facebook “estimates[s] so that we can act only between 3% and 5% of hate and about 6 tenths of 1% of V & I [violence and incitement] on Facebook despite being the best in the world at that ”.
He also said that Facebook helped amplify the Capitol riots in January, as it had only temporarily activated security systems to reduce misinformation during the US elections.
Ms. Haugen told CBS: “The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing apart our societies and causing ethnic violence around the world.”
Other leaked documents show that Facebook was also facing a lawsuit from some of its shareholders, mainly on suspicion of the company’s £ 3.7 billion payment to the US Federal Trade Commission to resolve the scandal. Cambridge Analytica’s data protection officer was to protect Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg from liability.
Facebook, which owns the image- and video-based social network Instagram, conducted its own internal investigation that found Instagram to be a “toxic” place for young people. But it did not release its findings.
According to the slides reported by the Wall Street Journal, 32 percent of the teens surveyed said that when they felt bad about their bodies, looking at other people’s photos on Instagram made them feel worse.
What did Facebook say?
Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who now works as Facebook’s vice president of Global Affairs, testified before US senators last week and said the leaks had failed to highlight the positive impact the platform had on teens.
On CNN, he criticized suggestions that Facebook was responsible for the Capitol riots, saying the allegations provide people with “false comfort.”