The former Facebook data analyst is testifying before the US Senate following her explosive revelations about the tech giant’s knowledge and negligence of its own harmful effects.
A former Facebook data scientist is speaking to lawmakers in the US Senate on Tuesday after she came forward with a wide-ranging condemnation of the tech giant.
In an interview that aired Sunday, Frances Haugen revealed that she was the source of internal documents and research showing the company knew of the harmful effects caused by its platforms.
Haugen has also filed complaints with federal authorities alleging that Facebook’s internal research showed that its platforms amplified hate, misinformation and political unrest — but the company hid what it knew.
Now, she is speaking to Congress, with revelations of the company’s awareness of apparent harm. You can follow the session live on DW’s Youtube channel.
What has Haugen said?
“I’m here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” Haugen told Senators.
“We must demand Facebook make changes,” she added.
Haugen said that the company is aware of how its algorithms fuel division and political polarization, but it refuses to make changes. “It’s about Facebook choosing to grow at all costs,” she said.
Tuesday’s hearing also focused on how the Facebook-owned image sharing platform Instagram is harmful to teenagers and children.
Haugen said that the way Facebook and Instagram curate content for their users is particularly harmful. Facebook knows that showing its users content that elicits their extreme reactions will, by its turn, encourage other users to create more content, and hence helping the platform grow.
“Facebook understands that if they want to continue to grow, they have to find new users. They have to make sure that the next generation is just as engaged with Instagram as the current one. And the way they will do that is by making sure that children establish habits before they have good self-regulation,” she said.
“It’s just like cigarettes, teenagers don’t have good self regulation. They say, explicitly, ‘I feel bad when I use Instagram and yet I can’t stop’,” she added, referring to the findings of an internal Facebook document.
Haugen also hit at the power structures in Facebook. “There is no one currently holding Mark (Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive) accountable other than himself,” she said. “The buck stops with Mark.”