A series of reports on Facebook’s corporate strategy plunged the company into crisis. Now the whistleblower is publicly speaking for the first time.
Update from Tuesday, October 5th, 2021, 10:52 p.m .: During the hearing of whistleblower Frances Haugen, US Senator Richard Blumenthal called on Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg to return to Congress and testify about the Wall Street Journal’s discoveries on child safety. It was made clear that Zuckerberg himself, as the CEO of Facebook, is the end of the decision-making chain and is therefore accountable. Facebook had vigorously denied many of Haugen’s claims, but is not doing so itself, but through people like global security chief Antigone Davis. “Instead of taking responsibility and demonstrating leadership skills, Mr. Zuckerberg goes sailing,” said Blumenthal.
First report from Monday, October 4th, 2021, 2.34 p.m .: New York – Facebook puts profit above society. This is the allegation of the company’s former employee, Frances Haugen. “The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and unleashing ethnic violence around the world.” 37-year-old Haugen provided information as a whistleblower for a series of articles in the Wall Street Journal, after which Facebook came under enormous political pressure United States* got. Haugen first appeared publicly in an interview with the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes.
Frances Haugen said she was hired as a product manager at Facebook in 2019 after working in the tech industry, including Pinterest and Google, for more than a decade. She agreed on the condition that she could help the company Fake news* to fight. The problem is important to her personally because she herself had lost a friend who had become involved in online conspiracy narratives. However, your team would have had too few resources to make a difference, said Haugen.
Facebook under pressure: “It feels like a betrayal of democracy”
However, Facebook is unwilling to take the necessary measures to address these issues even though the necessary funds are in place, Haugen said. Facebook got the 2020 US election* proved that it could do more on these issues than it had changed the guidelines for several weeks. After that, Facebook put growth and clicks above security again. According to Haugen, the move would have led to the unrest in the Capitol on January 6, 2021. “It really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me.”
“Facebook has realized that people spend less time on the platform and click on fewer advertisements if they change the algorithms so that they are more secure,” said Frances Haugen in relation to the renewed change in the guidelines on the social network.
Facebook ignores its own research results
In an interview with 60 Minutes, Frances Haugen also referred to the article in the Wall Street Journal, which has received a lot of attention in recent weeks. According to this, Facebook is aware of the psychological effects of Instagram on young users. Among other things, the report by Facebook researchers said that many teenagers – especially girls – Instagram increase dissatisfaction with their own bodies, which leads to eating disorders and depression.
Facebook pointed out after the report that teenagers – according to further data from the same studies – had identified other topics as helpful. Nevertheless, last week the online network put plans for an Instagram version for ten to twelve year olds on hold, with which the company claims to address the problem that younger children under the required 13 years of age also use the social network. However, Instagram stressed in a statement for 60 Minutes that they still consider a version for younger people to be useful.
US politicians increase pressure on Facebook
After the revelations, Facebook is also under pressure from politics. The Democratic Senator Ed Markey compared the strategy of the online network on Instagram with the action of the tobacco industry: “Instagram is that first cigarette of childhood”, which should make teenagers addicted at an early age and endanger their health, said Markey among other things. Facebook is distributing a product that it knows is harmful to young people. The whistleblower Frances Haugen is due to testify in Congress on Tuesday (October 5th, 2021).
After Haugen’s remarks, a Facebook spokesman said the network tries every day to strike a balance between freedom of expression and a safe environment. Facebook also stressed that hate speech was bad for business. The network could filter out hate speech down to 0.05 percent of such contributions before they reached the users, claimed top manager Guy Rosen.
Facebook: Biggest scandal since Camebridge Analytica
As a result of the investigations, Facebook is under as much political pressure as it has been since the scandal Camebridge Analytica* no longer. In 2018 it became known that the data analysis company was able to access information from millions of users without their knowledge. (Max Schäfer with dpa) * fr.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA
List of rubric lists: © Robert Fortunato / dpa