The Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen could prove to be one of the most important figures in the history of the social media age.
Amid many allegations backed by thousands of leaked internal company documents, she has accused Facebook of targeting children and directing them to harmful posts that they know will harm their mental health.
Haugen has also claimed that in its pursuit of maximum profit, the company has willingly deceived investors and the US Congress for allegedly unable to crack down on fake news and hate speech.
Who is Frances Haugen?
Haugen is a Facebook whistleblower who shed light on some of the multibillionaire-dollar company’s seedier practices through internal leaked documents.
“When I look at what I’ve done, it wasn’t my plan A. It wasn’t my plan B, it wasn’t my plan C. It was like my plan J or something. Nobody sat me down and said, ‘What? I want you to whistleblower, “said Haugen.
“During my time on Facebook, I realized a devastating truth: Almost no one outside of Facebook knows what’s going on inside Facebook.”
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As a former employee of Facebook, she shared tens of thousands of the company’s internal documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Wall Street Journal.
Born in Iowa City, after graduating from Harvard University, she began her career at Google, where she was the technical co-founder of the desktop dating app that later became Hinge.
Haugen is a data engineer by profession and has expressed a desire to start a new nonprofit charity to reform social media.
Haugen was recruited by Facebook in 2018, expressed an interest in working on projects related to misinformation, and became a product manager in the civic integrity department.
In her role, which ended in May 2021, she decided to become a whistleblower after seeing how she profited from unrest and dangerous fake news, as she describes it as an ongoing pattern.
On October 5, 2021, Haugen made an explosive statement in Congress and revealed to the public what many had already suspected.
What did Frances Haugen say?
In a document leaked by Haugens, a Facebook study appears to show that 13.5 percent of UK teenage girls say their suicidal thoughts increased after launching Instagram, a Facebook product.
Another leaked study found that 17 percent of teenage women say their eating disorders got worse after using the app, while 32 percent of teenage girls said they feel worse on Instagram when they feel bad.
Haugen claims that Facebook knows its products are harmful to children’s mental health, but continues to push users to use addictive algorithms for content that could affect their mental well-being.
During Haugen’s testimony, Senator Ed Markey claimed, “Facebook is like Big Tobacco and attracts young children with their first cigarettes.”
Facebook algorithm prefers right-wing news
Haugen claims that Facebook promotes right-wing, dangerous misinformation that can lead to violence in the real world.
She claims the company “literally incites ethnic violence” when the engagement-based ranking of “stories” is made of integrity and fact-checking.
The whistleblower pointed out that the algorithm of the social media platform in India was spreading anti-Muslim stories intended to incite violence and scare tactics.
“The result has been more division, more damage, more lies, more threats and more struggle. In some cases, this dangerous online conversation has resulted in actual violence that injures and even kills people,” Haugen claimed.
Haugen’s legal representatives have filed eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including public statements by Facebook about what they knew about how the organizers of the January 6 uprising in the U.S. Capitol used the platform.
According to Haugen’s team, Facebook executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, misrepresented and left out key details about their knowledge of the potential harm and role of Facebook and Instagram in the attack.
She claims Facebook lied to investors about its ability to detect and remove hate speech.
In response, Facebook has stated that the documents Haugen used in her testimony were “stolen” and cannot be considered reliable.