Facebook Whistleblower Reveals Identity, Accuses Company Of 'Betrayal Of Democracy'

Facebook Whistleblower Reveals Identity, Accuses Company Of 'Betrayal Of Democracy'

A Facebook Inc. FB whistleblower has accused the social media company of “betrayal of democracy” for turning off some of its safety measures immediately after the U.S. Presidential election in November 2020.

What Happened: The whistleblower who identified herself as Frances Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook’s civic misinformation team, said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that the Mark Zuckerberg-led company had introduced the safety measures after it recognized the risk of misinformation to the 2020 election.

However, Facebook turned off these safety measures and also dissolved the “Civic Integrity” unit to which Haugen was assigned, immediately after the election and just before the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, she said.

“As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off or they changed the settings back to what they were before, to prioritize growth over safety. And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me,” Haugen said on the ViacomCBS Inc. VIAC program aired Sunday.

The whistleblower noted that Facebook’s algorithm chooses content that is likely to make users angry and cause the most engagement on its platform.

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Why It Matters: Haugen revealed herself as the source of internal documents that were shared by her earlier with the Wall Street Journal. She is set to testify before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that while researchers at Facebook found its photo and video sharing app Instagram to be harmful to teenagers, the company has downplayed the fact in public.

Facebook said last week that it will halt efforts to develop an Instagram for kids after the project met with widespread opposition from lawmakers.

Price Action: Facebook shares closed almost 1.1% higher in Friday’s trading at $343.01.

For news coverage in French, Italian, or Spanish, check out Benzinga FranceBenzinga Italia, or Benzinga España.

Posted In: Antitrustbig techFrances HaugenMark Zuckerbergsocial mediaGovernmentNewsRegulationsTech