Facebook whistleblower: what we know
Haugen is scheduled to testify Tuesday before a US Senate subcommittee. Here’s what we know about her so far.
“Working at four large tech companies that operate different types of social media, I was able to compare and contrast how each company approaches and deals with different challenges,” she wrote in her prepared testimony.
Disappointed on Facebook
Haugen, 37, joined Facebook in 2019 to work on civic integrity, including “issues of democracy and disinformation,” according to his website. These issues have been at the center of criticism from Facebook and other social media companies, particularly around the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 US presidential election.
Haugen took the job at Facebook to fight disinformation, she said in her “60 Minute” interview. But she said her feelings about the company started to change when she decided to disband her civic integrity team shortly after the election.
She suggested that this move, in part, allowed the platform to be used to help organize the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
Facebook says the civic integrity team’s work was distributed to other units when it disbanded, and company executives have rebuffed accusations it was responsible for the Capitol Hill riot.
Haugen’s revelations are also significant because they come as lawmakers, regulators and activists around the world have repeatedly criticized the company for not doing enough to protect its hundreds of millions of users.
“I joined Facebook (…) because a relative became radicalized online,” she said in her comments to the Senate subcommittee. “I felt compelled to take an active role in creating a better, less toxic Facebook.”
But over the past two years, she said she has started to feel that Facebook is not so committed to ensuring that its products contribute to the public good.
In his statement to the Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, Haugen criticized Facebook’s creation of a “system that amplifies division, extremism and polarization” around the world.
“Facebook has grown into a trillion dollar business by paying for its profits with our safety, including the safety of our children,” she wrote. “And this is unacceptable.”
What she did
“Every day, our teams must balance protecting the ability of billions of people to speak out openly with the need to keep our platform a safe and positive place,” said Facebook spokesperson Lena Pietsch, in a statement to CNN Business after Sunday’s “60 minutes”. maintenance. “We continue to make significant improvements to combat the spread of disinformation and harmful content. To suggest that we promote bad content and do nothing is just not true.”
“If people hate Facebook more because of what I did, then I failed,” she told the Journal. “I believe in truth and reconciliation – we have to admit the reality. The first step is documentation.”
What happens next
On Tuesday, Haugen will testify before the Senate subcommittee chaired by Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal.
The subcommittee asked Facebook global security chief Antigone Davis last week about the impact of her apps on young users. Davis sought to portray the company’s services, especially Instagram, as more useful than harmful to teens.
“Now that does not mean that those who are not [finding it helpful] are not important to us. In fact, that’s why we’re doing this research, ”she said.
Those lawmakers will now hear Haugen firsthand and have the opportunity to ask her about her experience on Facebook.
The company strongly rebuffed the claims of its former employee, including a more than 700-word statement Sunday night exposing what it called “missing facts” from the “60-minute” segment and claiming that the interview “had used selected company materials to tell a misleading story about the research we are doing to improve our products. “
But his revelations seem likely to cause more than just a ripple effect for Facebook. The business has been closely watched by regulators and governments around the world for years, and the pressure continues to mount every week.
Haugen says the only way to hold Facebook accountable is to reveal its inner workings like it has.
“I came forward because I recognized a frightening truth: hardly anyone outside of Facebook knows what’s going on inside Facebook,” she wrote to the Senate committee on Monday. “As long as Facebook is operating in the dark, it will not be accountable to anyone. And it will continue to make choices that go against the common good.”
– CNN Business’s Clare Duffy and Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this report.