Days After Shedding Anonymity In TV Interview, Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen To Appear Before US Senate Today

·3-min read

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, who leaked thousands of internal company documents to the Wall Street Journal before quitting in May, will make her first appearance before US senators in Washington today(Oct 5).

Haugen has filed at least 8 complaints with the regulator Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against Facebook. One complaint alleges that say Facebook's own research shows that it amplifies hate, misinformation and political unrest—but the social media behemoth hides what it knows.

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, who leaked thousands of internal company documents to the Wall Street Journal before quitting in May, will make her first appearance before US senators in Washington today(Oct 5).

Haugen revealed her identity during an interview in CBS with 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley.

Haugen, a data scientist from Iowa with a degree in computer engineering and a Harvard master's degree in business, had previously worked for companies including Google and Pinterest. She worked with the 'Civic Integrity' unit of Facebook. The unit, that was dedicated to fighting disinformation, was dissolved after U.S presidential elections.

CBS also reported that Haugen has filed at least 8 complaints with the regulator Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against Facebook. One complaint alleges that say Facebook's own research shows that it amplifies hate, misinformation and political unrest—but the social media behemoth hides what it knows.

"The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook," Haugen told Pelley. "And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money."

"Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they'll click on less ads, they'll make less money." Haugen said during the interview

One of Haugen's compliant alleges that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg misled members of Congress in March when he testified about Facebook and Instagram's effect on the health of young girls. In responding to a question, Zuckerberg said that he did not believe his platform harms children.

When Pelley asked about Facebook's own internal studies about how Instagram harms teenage girls, Haugen said "And what's super tragic is Facebook's own research says, as these young women begin to consume this-- this eating disorder content, they get more and more depressed".

One internal study cited 13.5% of teen girls saying Instagram makes thoughts of suicide worse and 17% of teen girls saying it makes eating disorders worse.

Facebook put on hold its work on a kids’ version of Instagram, which the company says is meant mainly for tweens aged 10 to 12.

Haugen said a 2018 change to the content flow contributed to more divisiveness and ill will in a network ostensibly created to bring people closer together. Despite the enmity that the new algorithms were feeding, Facebook found that they helped keep people coming back — a pattern that helped the social media giant sell more of t

"And one of the consequences of how Facebook is picking out that content today is it is -- optimizing for content that gets engagement, or reaction. But its own research is showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it's easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions." Haugen said.

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