A key witness has accused Facebook of concentrating on profits rather than reducing hate speech and fake news, and of having contributed to the Capitol riots in Washington in January. Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, levelled up the accusations. Haugen recently appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes to reveal her identity as the whistleblower who shared documents with the Wall Street Journal on Facebook. She worked on Facebook’s civic misinformation team as a product manager.
These were the documents that cast the Mark Zuckerberg-owned company in a negative light for interrupting adolescent girls’ mental health on Instagram, having failed to raise enough COVID-19 vaccine awareness and other issues. The mental health issue has prompted a Senate subcommittee hearing on “Protecting Kids Online,” which Haugen will attend on Tuesday. In the CBS interview, Frances stated that there were conflicts of interest between what was good for Facebook and what was good for the public and that the social media giant chose to prioritise its own interests, such as making more money.
It has also been suggested that Facebook played a role in the 6 January Capitol Riot because the platform was used to organise the Capitol invasion after security safeguards were disabled following the US presidential elections. In response to the allegations, Facebook spokesperson Lena Pietsch stated, “We continue to make significant improvements to combat the spread of misinformation and harmful content.” She added, “It is simply not true to say that we encourage bad content and do nothing.”
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global policy, warned the social media giant’s employees of upcoming allegations against the company in a memo released after CBS aired a teaser of the “whistleblower” interview.