Facebook Whistleblower Testifies Before Congress
Whistleblower Accuses Facebook of Hiding the Harm it Causes for Users
A Facebook (FB) whistleblower testified before Congress yesterday. Frances Haugen, who worked in Facebook’s civic integrity unit and quit earlier in 2021, told lawmakers that Facebook repeatedly put profits over the health and safety of its users. Haugen also testified that Facebook designs its algorithms to steer users to high-engagement content, even if that content is harmful.
The explosive testimony comes after the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles about the inner workings of Facebook. Haugen was the source for those stories. During her testimony, Haugen said Facebook should face the same types of regulations as the tobacco and car industries.
Facebook Accused of Defrauding Advertisers, Harming Teens’ Self-Esteem
Haugen filed eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding Facebook’s behavior. Those complaints included allegations that Facebook hid internal research showing that its platforms contributed to a decline in younger users’ self-esteem and body confidence. She also contends that Facebook misrepresented its core metrics on individual user growth and content produced to investors and advertisers. “By delivering too many ads to users that the advertisers did not want to pay for, Facebook overcharged advertisers on a vast scale,” Haugen said.
In her remarks, Haugen told Congress she knew she could face backlash from Facebook for giving her testimony, but she felt it was the right thing to do. “I came forward because I recognized a frightening truth: almost no one outside of Facebook knows what happens inside Facebook,” she said.
Zuckerberg’s Personal Wealth Falls by Over $6 Billion
The whistleblower testimony in Congress came a day after Facebook faced one of its longest outages ever. Instagram and WhatsApp, which Facebook owns, were also out of commission for hours, sending shares of the tech giant plummeting nearly 5% Monday. In one day, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal wealth fell by over $6 billion to $121.6 billion. With Facebook shares about 15% lower since the middle of September, Zuckerberg’s wealth is down about $19 billion.
The hours-long outage impacted billions of users who were locked out of Facebook’s platforms. Facebook apologized for the outage and blamed configuration changes on its routers.
Facebook has been having a tough week and it’s only Wednesday. It will be interesting to see how Congress reacts to Haugen’s testimony and what impact this will have on the company.
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