‘Accountable to no one’: Facebook whistleblower blasts tech big on Capitol Hill

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Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen blasted the tech big throughout Senate testimony on Tuesday, accusing chief government Mark Zuckerberg of placing income over security and calling for presidency regulators to step in. 

“As long as Facebook is operating in the dark, it is accountable to no one and it will continue to make choices that go against the common good,” mentioned Haugen, a former Facebook worker who leaked hundreds of inner paperwork to lawmakers and the Wall Street Journal.

Material leaked by Haugen confirmed that Facebook has downplayed Instagram’s damaging results on teenagers’ psychological well being regardless of damning inner analysis. Others confirmed that the company exempts popular users from some content moderation rules and has didn’t crack down on drug cartels and human traffickers. 

“The documents I have provided to Congress prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public,” mentioned Haugen in testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee’s shopper safety subcommittee. “I came forward at great personal risk because I believe we still have time to act.” 

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen
Former Facebook worker Frances Haugen arrives for a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation listening to on Tuesday in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Haugen additionally mentioned that Facebook is exclusive amongst large tech corporations as a result of quantity of energy held by its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who she mentioned has prioritized progress over security with few checks on his energy. 

“There are no similarly powerful companies that are as unilaterally controlled [as Facebook],” mentioned Haugen. “The buck stops with Mark. There is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself.” 

In the face of Haugen’s revelations, Zuckerberg has currently appeared flippant. He has not commented on the whistleblower or the Journal’s articles past making a joke a couple of surfboard — and posted a video of himself going crusing on Sunday, the identical day that Haugen revealed her identification in an interview with 60 Minutes.

“Rather than taking responsibility and showing leadership, Mr. Zuckerberg is going sailing,” mentioned Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn throughout the listening to. 

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen
Haugen speaks with US Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) throughout a break at Tuesday’s listening to on Capitol Hill.
Jabin Botsford/Pool through REUTERS

Haugen’s assertion got here days after Facebook’s security chief Antigone Davis denied in a listening to with the identical Senate subcommittee that Zuckerberg has unilateral management over choices at Facebook. 

Davis additionally downplayed the analysis leaked by Haugen, arguing that it didn’t set up a “causal” connection between Instagram and teenage psychological well being points.

“This research is not a bombshell,” Davis insisted. 

Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone additionally tried to attenuate Haugen on Tuesday, writing on Twitter that Haugen “did not work on child safety or Instagram or research these issues and has no direct knowledge of the topic from her work at Facebook.”

But Haugen says that her credibility as whistleblower ought to be based mostly on the truth that she leaked reams of Facebook paperwork from researchers who had been engaged on little one security and Instagram — not simply her phrase. 

The whistleblower labored at Facebook from June 2019 to May 2020, studying and copying hundreds of paperwork from the corporate’s inner doc system, known as “Workplace.” Those paperwork included the research on misinformation, trafficking and different dangerous content material that ultimately had been revealed by the Journal. 

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen
In her testimony on Tuesday, Haugen mentioned duty for Facebook’s security insurance policies rests with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, saying “The buck stops with Mark.”
Jabin Botsford/Pool through REUTERS

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vp of world affairs, has repeatedly mentioned in media appearances that the actual fact that such inner analysis exists exhibits the corporate’s dedication to understanding its affect on society.

“If we didn’t want to address those questions, we wouldn’t commission the research in the first place,” Clegg mentioned Sunday on CNN.