A Facebook data scientist, Frances Haugen, exposed the social media giant for amplifying hate speech and misinformation to gain profits on the CBS television program “60 minutes”. On Sunday, she revealed her identity on national television and has filed eight complaints with the US Securities and Exchange Commission against Facebook. Her attorney John Tye, the legal nonprofit Whistleblower Aid, posits that Facebook is a publicly traded company and must not deceive its investors or conceal any material information.
Earlier, Haugen leaked the intrinsic Facebook documents to the Wall Street Journal to support the argument that Instagram is harmful to teens. After this, a series of documents, emails, and research decks were made available for the public by the journal that exhibited how the social media company controls the content algorithm and negatively impacts the mental health of teenagers. She also assured to provide testimony on her claims before a Senate subcommittee in a hearing called “Protecting Kids Online.”
“There was conflict…between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook, Haugen told 60 minutes host Scott Pelley. She continued saying that the company repeatedly chose to prioritize money over its 2.8 billion active users. She was a former product manager assigned to the Civic Integrity Group but dissolved and left the group in 2021. Before this designation in the Facebook Company, she worked with big companies like Goggle and Pinterest, but “it was substantially worse at Facebook,” conveyed her on the show.
The documents leaked by Haugen provide a clearer picture of the story. One of the documents mentions the multiple sources for amplifying hate speech, wrong information, and polarized political content on Facebook. The worst part of her story was when she said that the company was unwilling “to invest in what actually needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.”
According to her, the algorithm that got unfurled in 2018 is the root cause of the problem. It vividly mentioned that injecting hate, fear, and anger among online users is easier than any other emotion. She added that the company halted its safety preventives after the US Presidential Elections and resulted in the Capital riots on January 6. This allegation was refuted by the Facebook Vice President of global affairs Nick Clegg on CNN and said it was “ludicrous” to propound that the riot took place due to social media. Further, he states, “I think it gives people false comfort to assume that there must be a technological, or technical, explanation for the issues of political polarization in the United States.”
Haugen concluded the interview by saying that serious actions must be taken for the wrong done to the online public, and strict regulations for social media are to be put forward. After the televised interview, Facebook has also put forward its stand by publishing a statement via Facebook spokesperson Lena Pietsch. He says, “We continue to make significant improvements to tackle the spread of misinformation and harmful content. To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true.”
Image Source: TheVerge