Frances Haugen, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) whistleblower, recently testified to Congress and produced internal documents showing how harmful some of the company’s products are, from having the ability to poison political debates to helping increase the mental-health problem among teenagers.
This testimony is forcing lawmakers to consider creating stricter rules and regulations in the Big Tech space.
The documents Ms. Haugen gave to Congress show how the moderation rules Facebook has in place favor elites. How human traffickers and drug cartels use all their products and services openly and how the company’s algorithm fosters discord.
Frances Haugen told the Senate consumer protection committee that she saw the company repeatedly have to deal with conflicts between safety and its own profit.
She claimed that as long as the company is hiding what it’s doing from public scrutiny and is working in the shadows, it’s unaccountable. Ms. Haugen claimed Facebook itself wouldn’t change until its incentives did.
Ms. Haugen specifically singled out Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, for criticism. She cited how much control he has over the company. For instance, mark controls around 58% of the company’s voting shares. Ms. Haugen said:
“There is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself.”
The Mark Zuckerberg Effect
According to Ms. Haugen, Facebook under Mark makes decisions mainly based on how they’ll impact user engagement measurements rather than how much they could be potentially dangerous to the public.
Ms. Haugen said that Mr. Zuckerberg has created an incredibly metrics-driven company. Decisions are made based on metrics. Sadly, that in itself was a decision she confirmed.
The subcommittee’s chairman, Senator Richard Blumenthal, called on Mark to appear before them to testify. He termed Facebook as “morally” bankrupt.
In the last four years or so, the Facebook founder has had to testify seven times. The company’s executives, on the other hand, have testified a total of thirty times. The company claims that it has done as much as it can to protect the privacy and security of its users. The company says that it has invested heavily in both technology and people that can help keep its platform safe.
The company says that if existing research provided a solution for such complicated issues, society, governments, and the tech industry would’ve solved them already.
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