Frances worked as a product manager on Facebook’s civic disinformation team and claimed to have sent the documents to various authorities and journalists
In addition to the blackout on Monday, 4, which took down Facebook apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg’s company has been at the center of a scandal after the American newspaper Wall Street Journal reveal documents that prove the company neglects content moderation on its platforms. This Tuesday, the 5th, the employee who revealed that she had leaked internal Facebook polls will be heard in the US Senate at 11:00 am (Brasilia time) in an audience entitled “Protecting Children Online”, about the company’s research on the effect of Instagram on young users.
In an interview this Sunday, 3, to the program 60 minutes, from the American broadcaster CBS, Frances Haugen he presented himself as responsible for the company’s slide leaks and accused Facebook of acting for its own benefit to the detriment of its users.
“There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Frances said during the interview. “And Facebook has repeatedly chosen to optimize its own interests, like making more money.”
Frances worked as a product manager on Facebook’s civic disinformation team and claimed to have sent the documents to various authorities and journalists. The case came when the newspaper Wall Street Journal published a series of reports on the company’s conduct in relation to various contents on the platform.
The information obtained was user behavior surveys, some with a focus on mental health, which revealed the damage caused by social networks such as Instagram in underage youth. “One in three girls who feel bad about their bodies feel even worse on Instagram,” said one of the findings posted on an internal company bulletin board.
Presentations and emails also showed that the social network contributed to increasing online polarization when it made changes to its content algorithm and failed to take steps to reduce anti-vaccine content.
“I’ve seen a lot of social networks and Facebook was much worse than what I’ve seen before,” Frances said. “Facebook has repeatedly shown that it prefers profit to safety.”
At another time, the former Facebook employee stated that she joined the company precisely with the intention of working in the area of disinformation, but that the scenario she saw inside the company was not what she expected. “In fact, Facebook knew that its algorithms and platforms promoted this kind of harmful content and failed to implement internally recommended or lasting countermeasures.”
Ex-Google and Pinterest, Frances claimed that Facebook lied to the public about the progress it had made to crack down on hate speech and disinformation on its platform – she argued, for example, that Facebook was used to help organize the Capitol rebellion on January 6th. While she believes no one on Facebook is “evil,” Frances said the company’s incentives are misaligned.
Facebook published a statement contesting the points Frances made after the television interview. “We continue to make significant improvements to combat the spread of disinformation and harmful content,” said Facebook spokeswoman Lena Pietsch. “To suggest that we encourage bad content and don’t do anything is simply not true.”
Before the interview with 60 minutes, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg told the US channel CNN that it was “ridiculous” to claim that January 6th happened because of the social network.
On Sunday, Frances’ lawyer John Tye, founder of the non-profit legal organization Whistleblower Aid, confirmed a report from New York Times that some of the internal documents were shared with attorneys general in several states, including California, Vermont and Tennessee.
Tye said the complaints were filed with the SEC based on the fact that, as a publicly traded company, Facebook is obligated not to lie to its investors, or even withhold relevant information.
The complaints compare Facebook’s internal survey with its public statements on the subjects surveyed, according to the interview with 60 Minutes.
Tye said Frances also spoke with lawmakers in Europe and is expected to appear in the British parliament later this month, hoping to spur regulatory action. He and Frances are also interested in talking to lawmakers in Asian countries, as many of the issues motivating the former official come from the region, including ethnic violence in Myanmar, he added.
Whistleblower Aid, which is representing Frances free of charge, also launched a fundraiser to raise $50,000 for its legal costs./ WITH REUTERS