Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen revealed as ‘whistleblower’

Former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen has been revealed as the source behind tens of thousands of pages of leaked internal company research, which she says show that the company has been negligent in eliminating violence, misinformation and other harmful content from its services, and that it has misled investors about these efforts. For Facebook, the document leak — and the public reveal of the source — represents perhaps the most significant crisis in the company’s history, further deteriorating relationships between the company and Washington politicians. The company is the target of a historic federal antitrust case and is fielding document requests as members of Congress investigate its role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U. S. Capitol. Widely referred to as a “Facebook whistleblower” responsible for leaking documents behind a Wall Street Journal series, Haugen spoke publicly about her complaint to federal authorities, disclosing her identity for the first time in an interview airing Sunday night on “60 Minutes.”“There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money,” Haugen said in the interview. A veteran of tech companies including Pinterest, Yelp and Google, Haugen, 37, left Facebook in May after developing serious reservations about the company’s policies, particularly surrounding the events of Jan. 6. Before the 2020 election, Haugen said, Facebook implemented measures to prevent the spread of misinformation, but the company decided to dissolve many of these protections after the election. She said she stopped trusting that her employer was willing to limit growth to improve public safety.“As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off, or they changed the settings back to what they were before to prioritize growth over safety,” she said. “And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me.”Haugen’s lawyers have filed at least eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has broad oversight over financial markets and can bring charges against companies suspected of misleading investors, resulting in fines or other penalties for companies and executives. The complaints compare Haugen’s findings with the company’s public statements, according to “60 Minutes.” The SEC did not comment Sunday on the documents or whether it planned to bring action against Facebook. Facebook spokesperson Lena Pietsch said in a statement: “Every day our teams have to balance protecting the ability of billions of people to express themselves openly with the need to keep our platform a safe and positive place. … To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true.”Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.

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Article Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/10/03/facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen-revealed/

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