During an interview, a new Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, made harsh criticisms against the social networking giant, accusing it, among other things, of constantly putting its profits above the common interests of its users.
Haugen, who served as a product manager at Facebook, has become one of the company’s new whistleblowers. As reported during an interview on the CBS television program “60 Minutes”, she and her lawyers have filed eight lawsuits against Facebook for promoting misinformation and hate speech in line with their interests.
Haugen, who for 15 years worked for Big Tech, including Google and Pinterest, said that there are always conflicts of interest between what is suitable for the public and what was good for companies, but in the case of Facebook in these situations, “time and time again, it chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” Haugen said.
She explained that Facebook did this by “cherry-picking” content that “gets engagement or reaction,” even if the content is hateful, divisive, or polarizing, because “it’s easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions.” Haugen claimed that Facebook consistently lies about its progress in curbing hate speech on the social media platform.
During her appearance, Haugen confessed to having been the one who compiled and sent the documents that served as evidence to denounce Facebook through a series of reports published in the Wall Street Journal, which revealed previously unknown details about the inner workings of the social networking company.
Facebook was at the center of criticism after the Journal published the reports based on internal Facebook filings and emails that showed the company contributed to increased political polarization online when it changed its content algorithm and was aware that Instagram harmed the mental health of teenage girls, among other things.
Haugen is expected to testify at an Oct. 5 Senate hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online,” about Facebook’s knowledge of the photo-sharing app’s alleged harmful effects on children.
Among the reports published by the Journal, it highlights that Facebook was aware of how harmful the Instagram app is to teenagers’ mental health and yet was willing to launch it.
After the criticism was received, the CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, announced this Monday, Sept. 27, through his Twitter account that the company decided to ‘pause’ the launch of Instagram kids.
Strikingly, the WSJ report was based on a slide presentation made by the same Facebook researchers on the effect on health in adolescents and in which they admit the dismal results.
The research found that “32 percent of teenage girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” plus “comparisons (of their bodies to that of influencers) on Instagram can change the way young women see and describe themselves.”
Another slide claims that in the U.S., at least 6 percent of teens who reported suicidal thoughts blamed Instagram; in the U.K., this figure was 13 percent.
“When we live in an information environment that is full of angry, hateful, polarizing content it erodes our civic trust, it erodes our faith in each other, it erodes our ability to want to care for each other. The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world,” Haugen said near the end of the interview.