Facebook Prefers Profit over Blocking Hate and Misinformation, says Former Employee
Facebook prioritizes profit over removing misinformation and hatred from its platform. The reason is that users are encouraged to argue, refute, quarrel with each other, which helps social media activity and is good for advertisers.
At least eight complaints have been filed with the U.S. Federal Securities and Exchange Commission by lawyers of Francis Haugan, a former Facebook employee. She gave an interview to the popular TV show "60 Minutes", revealing that she is the source of the company's documents, which she takes with her when she leaves in May.
This led to a Wall Street Journal publication and a Senate hearing that the company knew that their Instagram policy led to mental harassment and frustration, mainly among young girls with photo-sharing profiles.
Haugan worked as a product manager on a team that misinformed citizens. She spoke to CBS at a time when the Wall Street Journal was making a series of posts showing that Facebook was contributing to political divisions, growing polarization of opinions and actions online when it changed its content algorithm, and failing to cross anti-wax conspiracy theories. "Facebook has learned that if they change their algorithm to more security, people will spend less time on the site, click on fewer ads and the company will make less money," she explained.
On Tuesday, Haugan will testify before a Senate subcommittee hearing on "Protecting Children Online." There is a conflict of interest between what is good for society and what is good for Facebook. "In favor of your own interest and making more money," she was quoted as saying by Reuters.
She has previously worked for Google and Pinterest and claims that Facebook is lying to the public that it has made progress in silencing hate speech and misinformation on the platform. According to her, this social network was used to organize the storming of the Capitol on January 6, because after the presidential elections in November 2020, Facebook's security systems were turned off.
She pointed out that the company has shown that it can change its policies for the benefit of society when, along with the US elections in 2020, it has given lower priority to political content in shaping the new flow in consumer profiles. "Once the election is over, they have restored the status quo with a priority to gain over security, and for me this is a betrayal of democracy," Haugan said.
According to her, hardly anyone in the company acts out of malicious motives, but that her management definitely has a wrongly constructed incentive system. Mark Zuckerberg "never intended to create a platform for hatred," she added. But she believes the consequences of the company's decisions have been too severe, and Haugan herself has a personal motive for losing friends who have sunk into the swamp of conspiracy theories.
Facebook denied Haugan's allegations in a special statement. "We continue to make significant improvements to address the dissemination of misinformation and harmful content," said spokeswoman Lina Pitch. "It's not true that we encourage the publication of bad content and do nothing."
Vice President Nick Clegg told CNN before the interview aired that it was ridiculous to claim that the January 6 riot was caused by social media.
John Ty, Haugan's lawyer and founder of the nonprofit Whistleblower Aid, confirmed that the New York Times wrote that some of the internal documents were shared with attorneys general in several states, including California, Vermont and Tennessee. . The complaints to the SEC are that Facebook is a publicly traded company and should not mislead or deceive its investors, nor should it disclose important information about its activities.
According to Ty, his client also spoke with an MEP in Europe and will appear before the British Parliament later this month, hoping that regulatory action will follow. The two are ready to do the same in front of parliaments in Asia, as Haugen was motivated to speak because of the ethnic violence in Myanmar.
"The current version of Facebook is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world," she said in an interview.
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