Facebook whistleblower urges US Senate to regulate company

Texas News Today

FILE PHOTO: The Facebook logo is seen on a mobile phone in this image taken on December 2, 2019. Reuters / Johanna Geron / Illustration / FILE PHOTO

4 October 2021

David Shepherdson and Diane Bahto

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Francis Hogan urged the US Congress on Tuesday to regulate the social media giant. ..

“The government took action when it came to know that the tobacco company was hiding the damage caused by it. When the car was found to be safe with seat belts on, the government took action. Asked to submit Hogan’s written testimony to the Senate Trade Subcommittee. “Please do the same here.”

Haughan told the panel that Facebook executives routinely choose advantage over user safety.

“The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram more secure, and prioritizes huge profits over people, so it doesn’t make the necessary changes. It needs Congressional action.” she says. “As long as Facebook operates in the dark, no one is responsible, and it will continue to make choices against the public interest.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a member of the subcommittee, said she would ask Haugen about the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

“Whether she thinks Facebook did enough to warn law enforcement and the general public about January 6th, and whether Facebook removed protection against false alarms because it caused financial loss to the company. Let me know about her.” Particularly interested to hear,” Klobuchar said in an emailed comment.

The senator also said he wanted to discuss Facebook’s algorithms and whether they “promote harmful and disruptive content.”

Hogen, who served as a product manager on Facebook’s Citizen Misinformation team, was a whistleblower who documented documents used in a Wall Street Journal investigation and a Senate hearing on Instagram’s harm to teenage girls.

Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.

The company did not respond to requests for comment.

“Facebook’s closed design means that Facebook is not being monitored, even by its oversight committee, which is as blind as the general public,” Haugen said.

As a result, she said it is impossible for regulators to act as checks.

“If you can’t look at Facebook’s actual system and see that Facebook’s system works as they say, it’s like watching the Department of Transportation regulate driving and cars on the freeway,” she said, in her testimony. . “Imagine the regulator can’t get into the car, can’t lift the wheels, can’t do a car crash test, or know that a seatbelt might be present.”

Facebook’s internal presentations and email-based journal stories show that the company contributed to an increase in online polarization when it made changes to its content algorithms. No measure could be taken to reduce vaccine hesitation. And I realized that Instagram was harmful to the mental health of teenage girls.

Haugen said Facebook did little to deter people who plan violence from using the platform.

“The result is a system that perpetuates division, extremism and polarization and undermines societies around the world. In some cases, this dangerous online conversation actually hurts and even kills people. It has fueled the violence of the world. gave birth to,” she said.

Facebook was used in the January 6 attack by people planning mass slaughter in Myanmar and Trump supporters who decided to skip the 2020 election results.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Additional reporting by Diane Bartz, Edited by Rosalba O’Brien, David Gregorio, Sonya Heppinstall)

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