Tech&Innovation

Facebook’s Whistle is Blown

Facebook’s Whistleblower

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has already come forward and testified before the Senate on Facebook’s corrupt operations. Haugen formerly worked at Facebook for two years, studying how the platform’s algorithm amplified misinformation and got exploited by external forces. Before leaving, Haugen published the Facebook Files, a compilation of confidential Facebook documents that uncovered the dark side of the company’s operations.

Reports

The Facebook Files, released by Frances Haugen, have resulted in various reports being published exposing Facebook’s actions. NBC reports that Facebook ran an experiment detailing how a new profile for a conservative mother from North Carolina started receiving recommendations for QAnon groups within two days. The files show that Facebook was hosting thousands of private QAnon groups that had millions of followers. 

Bloomberg also reported how the employees responded to the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th. The overwhelming majority of reactions were those of shock and outrage, with one employee stating that they were “struggling to match [their] value to [their] employment” at Facebook. “I came here hoping to affect change and improve society, but all I’ve seen is atrophy and abdication of responsibility.”  These are powerful words that reflect how individual employees are not to blame for Facebook’s actions as a company, most likely masterminded by only a couple individuals near the top of the power structure. 

CNN also released a report, detailing policies and procedures the company had put in place to prevent the growth of groups related to “Stop the Steal”. Stop the Steal was an movement against the results of the 2020 election, and it got past Facebook monitors due to their procedures dealing with the posts individually rather than as pieces of the movement. 

The New York Times reported that a Facebook data scientist wrote to his colleagues stating that 10% of all US political views on the site were of posts that claimed the results of the 2020 election were fraudulent. They additionally published studies on the spread of hate speech and content that incited violence in India on Facebook apps. 

Impact

All these reports stem from the Facebook Files, and there will likely be even more investigation into Facebook’s actions that will hopefully result in better change for the platform and its users.

Sources:

https://www.npr.org/2021/10/05/1043377310/facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen-congress

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/22/facebook-hit-by-a-barrage-of-reports-from-consortium-of-news-outlets.html

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