Facebook Needs Real Oversight, Whistleblower Tells US Congress

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has revealed to lawmakers at the congressional subcommittee how the social media firm pushed for higher profits while being cavalier about user safety.
Haugen’s testimony in Congress came after her shocking revelations in a “60 Minutes” interview which was aired on Sunday, and a worldwide Facebook outage on Monday.

The former Facebook product manager testified in Congress on Tuesday against the firm in front of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s subcommittee for consumer protection, product safety and data security, warning lawmakers that the social media giant operated without proper oversight.

Following an hours-long outage on Monday, Haugen testified in the congressional hearing that “for more than five hours Facebook wasn’t used to deepen divides, destabilize democracies and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies.”

“A company with control over our deepest thoughts, feelings and behaviors needs real oversight,” she reportedly pled to lawmakers in written testimony.

She issued a call to action from Congress to make social media safer, telling lawmakers that Facebook would change its policies only if it is forced by new regulations to do so.

The Senate hearing entitled ‘Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower’ was Haugen’s second public appearance after identifying herself as the person who leaked thousands of pages of internal company research to the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC], as well as the Wall Street Journal, shedding light on the dark and murky business of the social media giant.

Haugen, who worked at Google and Pinterest before joining Facebook in 2019, told media that she was motivated to go public because she viewed Facebook in its current form as “dangerous.”

“I don’t trust that they’re willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous,” said Haugen, who left Facebook in May.

By disclosing tens of thousands of Facebook’s internal documents, Haugen alleged that the company was ignoring research proving the platform amplified “angry, polarizing, [and] divisive content” that can put public safety at risk. She also lodged a complaint to the SEC, complaining that Facebook had misled investors “to prioritize growth over safety.”

US lawmakers grill Facebook on spiking mental health fears
US lawmakers grill Facebook on spiking mental health fears
US lawmakers Thursday demanded pledges from Facebook to address escalating worries over its platforms
Meanwhile, Facebook called many of Haugen’s claims as being “misleading.” “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,” Facebook spokesperson Lena Pietsch said following the “60 Minutes” interview.
In response to numerous researches suggesting social media platforms were negatively impacting teens’ mental health, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed the studies were “inconclusive.”

Facebook ‘faces jawdropping moment of truth’: Senator

Meanwhile, US Senate Commerce subcommittee chair Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said Facebook knew that its products were addictive, like cigarettes. “Tech now faces that big tobacco jawdropping moment of truth,” he said, according to Reuters.

He asked Zuckerberg to testify before the Senate committee, and for the Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook.

“Our children are the ones who are victims. Teens today looking in the mirror feel doubt and insecurity. Mark Zuckerberg ought to be looking at himself in the mirror,” Blumenthal said, adding that Zuckerberg instead was going sailing.

Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook’s civic misinformation team who has turned whistleblower, said Facebook has sought to keep its operations confidential.

“Today, no regulator has a menu of solutions for how to fix Facebook, because Facebook didn’t want them to know enough about what’s causing the problems. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been need for a whistleblower,” she said.

Source: Press TV

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