Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen came out of the shadows on Sunday after months of secret work with lawyers, journalists and lawmakers to raise a case against a company he previously thought would change it from within – but now sees it as a fundamental threat to all of humanity. Haugen was once against being brought into the spotlight on Tuesday when she appeared before a Senate subcommittee to testify about Facebook’s policies that put profit ahead of children’s mental health on their platforms.
Repeating her interview on Sunday for 60 minutes, Haugen said she joined Facebook in 2019 after someone close to her was “radicalized” online. She was chasing business in the company, she said, in an effort to improve internal policies that have long been criticized for boosting content that is politically diverse in order to create engagement among its customers. Facebook’s acute association with business engagement – which translates into advertising dollars, the company’s only source of revenue – has resulted in a system that only serves to reinforce “divisions, extremism and polarization,” she said, “undermining societies around the world”.
“This is not just a matter of some social media users being angry or unstable,” Haugen said. “Facebook has become a $ 1 trillion company by paying its profits with our safety, including the safety of our children. And that is unacceptable. ”
At the top of the debate, Senator Richard Blumenthal, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, questioned whether Facebook knew all along that children were becoming addicted to Instagram, a photo-sharing platform Facebook bought in 2012. “Many online Facebook reports suggest that “Facebook has serious negative damage to a significant proportion of teenagers and younger children,” she said.
“Facebook knows that its boosting algorithms, things like engagement-based rankings on Instagram, can take kids away from very harmless topics … everything from something innocent like health prescriptions to content that promotes anorexia, in a very short period of time,” Haugen said. He said, adding that Facebook’s online definition of “addiction” requires users to identify themselves as having a problem.
“In the end,” she said, CEO Mark Zuckerberg bears the greatest responsibility. “Right now, no one is holding Mark responsible.”
This is an evolving story and will be updated.
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