What to know about Haugen’s Facebook testimony

In front of members of the Senate on Tuesday, previous Facebook staff member Frances Haugen implicated the business of “prioritizing its profits over people,” consisting of the security of young users.

“I am here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy,” stated Haugen, who has actually ended up being referred to as the Facebook whistleblower.

While Haugen just exposed her identity 2 days earlier in an interview with 60 Minutes, her actions because leaving the business in May have actually led to a numeration for the social networks giant. Before resigning from her task as an item supervisor, Haugen gotten 10s of countless pages of internal research study files from the business, which she utilized to file numerous grievances with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These grievances, a few of which have actually because been released on CBS News, claim that Facebook has actually misinformed financiers over its actions relating to dislike speech, its psychological health influence on teenager users, and the kind of material promoted by its algorithm, to name a few issues. 

Haugen likewise dripped a few of those files to The Wall Street Journal, offering the basis for the business’s  “Facebook Files” investigative series, which she notified however was not recognized in till the most current dispatch. Articles released in September detailing the business’s interest in and targeted research study about teenagers and kids generated especially strong reaction, and Facebook later on revealed it would reevaluate its technique to developing an Instagram Kids function. 

But Haugen revealed doubt on Tuesday throughout her testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security that Facebook has the capability to meaningfully self-regulate, contacting authorities to action in. 

“Facebook is stuck in a feedback loop that they cannot get out of,” Haugen stated, calling the cycle a problem of “moral bankruptcy.” “They need to admit that they did something wrong and that they need help to solve these problems.”

[Related: Facebook has an explanation for its massive Monday outage]

Along with raising alarms about Facebook’s absence of openness and oversight, Haugen slammed its dependence on algorithms, promoting for methods to “slow the platform down” to lower the spread of false information and user reliance on the social networks websites. As it presently runs, Haugen stated she has “strong national security concerns” about Facebook’s usage by foreign foes and the platform’s absence of personnel to address counter-espionage and counterterrorism problems. She likewise cast hesitation over its capability to manage false information in essential locations, consisting of material relating to vaccines. 

Still, she revealed hope in the capacity for Facebook to enhance and avoided requiring severe repercussions versus the business that would see it separated or liquified. 

“If people just hate Facebook more because of what I’ve done, then I’ve failed,” she formerly stated to The Wall Street Journal. “I believe in truth and reconciliation – we need to admit reality. The first step of that is documentation.”

Though Haugen’s testimony and option to speak up were broadly applauded by a bipartisan union of authorities, with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) comparing the hearing to a “big tobacco moment” for huge tech, Facebook has actually pressed back on her image as a specialist in the business’s operations. 

“Just pointing out the fact that @FrancesHaugen did not work on child safety or Instagram or research these issues and has no direct knowledge of the topic from her work at Facebook,” tweeted Facebook representative Andy Stone at the start of the hearing. 

[Related: Criticism has pushed ‘Instagram Kids’ back to the drawing board]

After it concluded, numerous spokespeople for the business, consisting of Stone, sent what was maybe a bit more pointed statement from Facebook’s director of policy interactions, Lena Pietsch. Pietsch referred to Haugen as “a former product manager at Facebook who worked for the company for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives” and challenged her “characterization” of the problems she affirmed about.

The business has actually likewise released particular counterclaims to Haugen’s claims on 60 Minutes and to The Wall Street Journal’s reporting on its internal files, concentrating on its financial investments into keeping the platform safe, especially for more youthful users. 

Still, it promises that the world will be hearing more from Haugen—the previous Facebook staff member pointed out in her testimony that she will be speaking to another congressional committee, and the San Francisco Chronicle states she is slated to appear in front of British and European authorities next.

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