Facebook’s Products Harm Children stoke Division and Weaken Democracy, Alleges Whistleblower Frances Haugen

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen argued at a Senate hearing Tuesday that Congress needs to require more transparency from the social networking giant.

She has been making headlines after she revealed her identity in an interview with CBS’ Scott Pelley. 

Frances Hauge testified before the Senate subcommittee where she provided a clear and detailed glimpse inside the shady tech giant.  

In her opening remark, she mentioned that she joined Facebook because she thought it can bring out the best in us, but she finds that the Facebook’s products harm children stoke division and weaken our democracy.

She said Facebook harms children, sows division and undermines democracy in pursuit of breakneck growth and “astronomical profits.”

Revelations brought to light by the former Facebook employee led to what may be the most threatening scandal in the company’s history.

Facebook previously has been accused of playing a role in Russian attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential elections and the lax handling of user data in the Cambridge Analytica case. In the year 2018 Facebook CEO and founder was summed by a Congressional committee to testify about the misuse of private data of up to 50 million user profiles. Other tech giants Google and Twitter were also summoned.

But this time case against Facebook seems stronger than ever. Here are the key statements made by the Facebook Whistleblower while testifying at Senate Hearing.

I believe Facebook’s products harm children stoke division and weaken our democracy. The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people

Almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside of Facebook the company intentionally hides vital information from the public from the US government and governments around the world.

The algorithms are very smart in the sense that they latch on to things that people want to continue to engage with and unfortunately in the case of teen girls and things like self-harm. They develop these feedback cycles where children are using Instagram to self-soothe but then are exposed to more and more content that makes them hate themselves.

The choices being made inside of Facebook are disastrous for our children for our public safety for our privacy and our democracy

while important these will not get to the core of the issue which is that no one truly understands the destructive choices made by Facebook except Facebook we can afford nothing less than full transparency as long as Facebook is operating in the shadows hiding its research from public scrutiny it is unaccountable until the incentives change Facebook will not change

Responding to Frances Haugen testimony at Capitol Hill, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg writes, “Now that today’s testimony is over, I wanted to reflect on the public debate we’re in. I’m sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to read because it just doesn’t reflect the company we know. We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It’s difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don’t recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted.”

In a long Facebook post, he stressed that Facebook does not prioritize profit over safety and well being. He writes, “The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don’t want their ads next to harmful or angry content.”

John Thornhill the Innovation Editor at the Financial Times writes, “Despite Facebook’s attempt to trash Frances Haugen credibility, she made a powerful case. A computer scientist by training, she worked at Facebook, Goole, Pinterest and Yelp since 2006, and had access to reams of internal Facebook research, which she leaked to the Wall Street Journal last month”

Her most damaging charge was that the company’s leadership knew about the problems that Facebook and its sharing app Instagram caused but chose to put their ‘astronomical profits before people’.

The news broke out after Facebook Whistleblower revealed her identity in a nationally broadcast interview Sunday. CBS’ Scott Pelley’s interviewed, Frances Haugen in his show 60 Minutes revealing for the first time the ex-employees identity.

He introduced her as “Her name is Frances Haugen. That is a fact that Facebook has been anxious to know since last month when an anonymous former employee filed complaints with federal law enforcement. 

The complaints say Facebook’s research shows that it amplifies hate, misinformation and political unrest—but the company hides what it knows. One complaint alleges that Facebook’s Instagram harms teenage girls. 

What makes Haugen’s complaints unprecedented is the trove of private Facebook research she took when she quit in May. The documents appeared first, last month, in the Wall Street Journal. But tonight, Frances Haugen is revealing her identity to explain why she became the Facebook whistleblower.

Watch the full interview here: 

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